Hackers claim they breached data on 1 billion Chinese residents from police

Hackers say they’ve breached the private data of 1 billion Chinese residents from a Shanghai police database and supplied it on the market, a leak that, if confirmed, can be one of many largest such exposures in historical past.

In a publish final week on an underground hacker discussion board, an nameless poster or a gaggle, marketed the provision of the data and launched a pattern, which purportedly contained 750,000 information. The asking value for your entire 23-terabyte database was 10 bitcoin, or about $200,000. The publish has since been locked by the positioning.

The data included names, nationwide identification and telephone numbers, medical information, particulars from police reviews and different info. Though the authenticity of the total database had not been confirmed, The Post’s evaluate of some ID numbers appeared to trace with info discovered on a authorities web site.

The alleged hackers stated there have been a number of billion case reviews — from thefts to fights to home violence, dated from the late Nineties to 2019 — and the information of 1 billion Chinese residents. If authenticated, the database would cowl greater than 70 % of China’s 1.4 billion residents. The private info and reported incidents have been contained in separate information.

Despite the scope, authorities have been blocking victims from studying concerning the leak. On Weibo, a extensively used Twitter-like platform in China, a key phrase seek for “data leak” or “Shanghai police database” didn’t return any outcomes associated to the breach. One affected particular person, in an interview with The Post, confirmed particulars of the report related to them however had not recognized concerning the leak.

Analysis: Here are four big questions about the massive Shanghai police leak

The breach got here after China’s Personal Information Protection Law took impact final yr, which imposed stringent safety safeguards on company and authorities entities that deal with private info. The legislation was handed after Chinese regulators ordered greater than 40 corporations to vary their operations for violating data switch guidelines, Reuters reported.

Kendra Schaefer, the pinnacle of tech coverage analysis at China-focused analysis staff Trivium China, said in a Twitter post Monday that the incident was the primary main public breach by a authorities physique beneath the brand new legislation. “So it’s unclear who holds who accountable,” she stated. The Ministry of Public Security (MSP) would usually oversee cybercrime investigations.

“The records also allegedly contain details on case files of minors,” Schaefer stated. “So that would be a violation of the Minor Protection Law.” She raised the chance that the data contained info of celebrities or officers.

In the launched pattern data set, sure info was related to people listed beneath the “seven categories of key people,” a reference to people monitored by MSP for suspected prison exercise.

State departments, the Shanghai authorities and the Shanghai police division didn’t reply to requests for remark.

However, it’s additionally potential the information had been on-line earlier than the legislation grew to become efficient — it solely obtained public consideration after the alleged hacker launched it on-line. Cybersecurity researcher Vinny Troia told CNN that he was made conscious of the database in January on a public web site, which was opened in April 2021, that means anybody may have accessed the database since then.

There’s additionally hypothesis authorities employees by accident included the credentials essential to entry the database in a weblog publish on the Chinese Software Developer Network, a discussion board for builders to share code. Changpeng Zhao, the chief government of the cryptocurrency trade Binance, referenced the idea in a tweet on Monday. He stated that the corporate had “already stepped up verifications” for customers who have been probably affected.

The unnamed poster claimed that the database was hosted by AliCloud, a subsidiary of Chinese e-commerce big Alibaba Group. Cloud suppliers affiliated with large tech corporations, like AliCloud, usually constructed the digital infrastructure for presidency companies.

Alibaba Group didn’t reply to the request for remark.

But Shawn Chang, the chief government of safety resolution supplier HardenedVault discovered the idea unconvincing. “Shanghai is a city [with] 250 million population. AliCloud is unlikely [to use] one key for the whole police system,” he stated. He added that the breach may very well be elsewhere, akin to with centralized key administration companies that didn’t undergo the authentication course of.

Web safety marketing consultant Troy Hunt stated that the anonymity of the one who supplied the sale, in addition to the dimensions of the database, raised questions over its accuracy. The solicitation of a big payout additionally raises the chance the claim has been exaggerated or falsified, he added.

But the data was additionally robust “because it is a very unique class of information,” Hunt stated. Unlike self-reported names and telephone numbers whereas filling out a type on-line — which have been seen in different data breaches — it was police reviews that “would only really be in one place.”

It’s no secret that authorities entities in China have poorly managed data techniques. (*1*)

Earlier this yr, a researcher obtained a cache of documents from Xinjiang Police, which detailed draconian surveillance and reeducation practices in the region and shed lights on Beijing’s crackdown on the Uyghur population.

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