Great data theft in China: information of 1,000 million people and police cases for sale

A cybercriminal calling himself ChinaDan claims to have obtained the personal information of 1 billion Chinese citizens following an alleged leak of a Shanghai Police database. In a message posted on the popular Breached Forums forum, the user claims to also be in possession of “several billion case files” from police, with data including name, address, place of birth, national identity document number, telephone number and “full details” of the crimes described.

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ChinaDan offers to sell all this data in exchange for 10 bitcoins, the equivalent of about 200,000 dollars (almost 195,000 euros). The original message was posted on June 30, the same day the user signed up, and generated up to 17 pages of comments before forum moderators closed the thread.

The cybercriminal did not offer any details of how he obtained that supposed data package, of more than 23 ‘terabytes’ -a unit equivalent to 1,000 ‘gigabytes’- in weight, but he did post a downloadable sample with some 750,000 files. In an article about the leak, the American newspaper The New York Times claimed to have “confirmed parts” of the data included in that sample.

“It is difficult to distinguish truth from rumours, but I can confirm that the file exists. If the source is the Ministry of Public Security (the main police and intelligence body in the country) it would be bad for several reasons. The most obvious, which would be among the largest security breaches in history,” Kendra Schaefer, a data and technology analyst at the consulting firm Trivium China, explained on Twitter.

In his opinion, given that the recently approved personal data protection law obliges government institutions to protect citizens’ information, the aforementioned Ministry would have failed in its duty to confirm that the alleged data came from it. Schaefer clarifies that, for now, “it is not clear who is to blame”, since the leak could have occurred through a platform in the cloud of one of the great Chinese technology companies, but he does predict that “in any If so, heads will roll.”

For the moment, government censorship seems to have taken action on the matter, since when searching for news about the alleged hack in the popular Baidu search engine —the local equivalent of Google, which is not allowed access in the country— the mentions that previously appeared in the topic have now turned into a message indicating that there are no results.


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