[ISN] Chinese 'hacktivists' spin a Web of trouble for the regime

From: mea culpa (jerichoat_private)
Date: Mon Dec 07 1998 - 05:20:19 PST

  • Next message: mea culpa: "[ISN] The Enterprise Strikes Back (reverse hacking/errata)"

      This message is in MIME format.  The first part should be readable text,
      while the remaining parts are likely unreadable without MIME-aware tools.
      Send mail to mimeat_private for more info.
    Content-Type: TEXT/PLAIN; CHARSET=us-ascii
    Content-ID: <Pine.SUN.3.96.981207061934.28562Uat_private>
    World Report 9/28/98
    Chinese 'hacktivists' spin a Web of trouble
    The regime is unable to control the Internet
    BEIJING--In the university district of Beijing, a bunch of 20-year-olds
    calling themselves the Web Worms slouch around in an apartment stacked
    with old issues of PC Magazine.  "Chinese computer networks are so easy to
    break into," brags Xiao Zhang, a 25-year-old who manages a computer
    network for an American company by day and hacks into others by night.
    "I'd say 90 percent of them are not secure." To back up his claim, he
    describes in detail how he wandered at will through the computer network
    of China's postal service that day. 
    >From the moment in 1995 that a commercial Internet provider first gave
    Chinese citizens access to the Web, the government has tried to maintain
    what some cyber surfers derisively call "the Great Firewall of China."
    This elaborate control system is supposed to block sites that the
    Communist Party considers morally or politically degenerate, from
    Penthouse to Amnesty International and CNN. But with a few simple tricks,
    ordinary Internet users are now making a mockery of the Great Firewall,
    tapping easily into forbidden foreign sites. 
    Sabotage. Sophisticated hackers, meanwhile, are breaking into sensitive
    Chinese computers. Members of the Hong Kong Blondes, a covert group, claim
    to have gotten into Chinese military computers and to have temporarily
    shut down a communications satellite last year in a "hacktivist" protest.
    "The ultimate aim is to use hacktivism to ameliorate human rights
    conditions,"  says Oxblood Ruffin, a member of the Toronto-based Cult of
    the Dead Cow ( www.cultdeadcow.com), one of the oldest hacker groups in
    North America, who serves as unofficial spokesman for the having-more-fun
    Free speech also is proliferating. A political journal called Tunnel (
    www.geocities.com/Silicon Valley/Bay/5598) is said to be edited secretly
    in China and sent by E-mail each week to an address in the United States,
    where it is then E-mailed anonymously back to thousands of Chinese
    readers. Big Reference ( www.ifcss.org) is another online challenge to the
    authorities. One recent issue extolled individualism and paid tribute to
    the mother of a student killed when troops crushed the pro-democracy
    protest in Tiananmen Square in 1989. 
    The Internet provides not only speed and efficiency but also cover. "If
    you tried to do a traditional newsletter promoting democracy in China,
    you'd surely get arrested,"  says Eddie Leung, editor of Hong Kong Voice
    of Democracy ( www.freeway.org.hk/democracy), an E-mail magazine that
    tracks the Chinese democratic movement. If only the authorities were smart
    enough to realize what's going on, "all the political activities on the
    Internet would really have them scared," adds Guo Liang, a computer expert
    at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences. 
    Perhaps they are smart enough. New regulations introduced at the end of
    last year imposed stiff penalties--including jail sentences--for using the
    Internet to "damage state interests," "spread rumors," or "publicly insult
    others."  Nonetheless, China's wired population has grown to 1.175
    million, according to government figures. While that is a tiny portion of
    an overall population approaching 2 billion, China's Internet users are
    virtually by definition the country's most educated and modern elite. To
    watch over them, a new force of more than 200 "Internet security guards"
    has been assigned to patrol computer networks at state companies and
    ministries. "What we're really afraid of is political infiltration,"
    admits Qin Guang, head of the Computer Department for the Shanghai Public
    Security Bureau, which is pioneering this nationwide effort. "Our goal is
    to have a security guard in every work unit." 
    Perhaps most worrisome to the authorities, young Chinese are using the Net
    to coordinate political campaigns. On August 17, Indonesia's independence
    day, hackers in China broke into Indonesian government Web sites and
    posted messages protesting violence against ethnic Chinese there. Chinese
    security officials ignored the demonstration until it reached the streets.
    That day, about 100 students rallied outside the Indonesian Embassy,
    carrying photographs of rape and murder victims that they had downloaded
    from the Web. "The incidents weren't written up in the Chinese news, but I
    read about them on the Web and had to do something," said one Beijing
    University student as he faced busloads of police. 
    In recent months, the government has taken even more drastic action. In
    Shanghai, a computer engineer named Lin Hai faces charges of "inciting the
    overthrow of state power" by providing 30,000 E-mail addresses to Big
    Reference. And at the end of July, the publishers of Tunnel went into
    Subscribe: mail majordomoat_private with "subscribe isn".
    Today's ISN Sponsor: Repent Security Incorporated [www.repsec.com]

    This archive was generated by hypermail 2b30 : Fri Apr 13 2001 - 13:13:26 PDT