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Training for hackers stirs worry about illegal actions
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08:08, August 04, 2009

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Hacker training generated an estimated income of 238 million yuan last year.

First the bad news: Hackers last year caused an estimated economic loss of 7.6 billion yuan ($1 billion) in China.

Using a brutal one-two punch, hackers have stolen people's bank account numbers and passwords and damaged the Internet users' computers and servers in the process.

That's according to the National Computer Network Emergency Response Technique Team/Coordination of China.

And then there is worse news: Hacker training, like in some other countries, has almost become an industry in China; last year it generated an estimated income of 238 million yuan.

Large numbers of hacker schools have been set up -- mostly online -- around China. (The exact number remains unknown.)

"Our school simply helps ordinary citizens learn about self-defense in cyberspace, although it's called 'Hacker Base'," said a customer service employee with Beijing-based hackerbase.com, which provides Internet-security training courses.

But, the employee said, it is very easy for their students to hack into other computers after learning the security weaknesses of the Internet. Students, though, are told not to use their skills for illegal purposes, she said.

The employee added, however, that it is not the responsibility of the school if students use their information to do something illegal.

"Lots of hacker schools only teach students how to hack into unprotected computers and steal personal information," said Wang Xianbing, a security consultant for hackerbase.com. "They then make a profit by selling users' information."

For investing hundreds of yuan in hacker school, students could obtain the skills to make a fortune, Wang said.

"Hacker school is a bit like driving school - they teach you how to drive but it's up to you if you are going to drive safely or kill someone," said Wang.

A 25-year-old hacker school student from Shanghai surnamed Wang, said most of his "classmates" simply enroll in hacker school for personal reasons, such as spying on relatives, showing off their computer-savvy skills or taking revenge on a rival's Websites, rather than making money.

"Instructing people on how to hack into other people's computers to make profit is clearly a crime," said Li Xuxi, a lawyer from Beijing Zi Guang law firm.

Such hacker schools should be closed and those responsible be punished, said Li.

As the number of China's hacking incidents increases, more hackers are being caught and some are receiving sentences.

In the latest case, a computer hacker in Hubei province was sentenced this year to one and half years in prison for replacing the picture of an official on a government website with a girl in a bikini.

Source: China Daily

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