In May, China’s National Computer Network Emergency Response Technical Team, a non-profit agency, said it had recorded 9,068 instances of data leaks in 2014, three times as many as in 2013, reflecting the “grim challenges” of Chinese cyber security, according to the official Xinhua news agency.
To try and tackle this, dozens of cyber security companies are now cropping up across China according to industry observers, populated by young techies with bona fide security skills and work experience at firms like Alibaba, Tencent Holdings Ltd and Baidu Inc.
China is hoping that eventually domestic cyber security groups will provide most of its companies with defenses against hacking, rather than them relying on foreign firms like Symantec, Kaspersky and EMC Corp’s RSA.
The gradual professionalism of China’s bedroom hackers traces the country’s rise as an economic and technological force, and its sometimes conflicted position in the escalating global data security arms race.
The U.S. government has attributed sophisticated attacks – including the large-scale data theft this month from the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) – to increasingly advanced state-affiliated teams from China.
But former hackers say the majority of their peers are joining a burgeoning industry to help China firms fend off the numerous attacks they face themselves.
This should not really come as a surprise because it happens more often than not. There have been many cases where former criminals become government or law enforcement consults, using their experience with malicious activities to help craft better defensive measures.
I expect that as the cyber operations increase, more Chinese and NSA cyber specialists will turn to industry, knowing they can make exponentially more money than they ever would in Uncle Sam’s arms.