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CNN reporter dives into the world of the Chinese hacking underground

“No website is 100% safe,” says Chen Xiao, member of a team of hackers that operate from a bare apartment just off the coast of Shanghai.

“There are websites with high-level security, but there is always a weakness,” adds Chen.

Pensive about his actual identity, Chen and his two colleagues belong to what some are calling a Chinese “civilian cyber militia,” attacking government and private websites around the world for fun and, occasionally, profit.

In a secret meeting with CNN correspondent John Vause, Chen showed the reporter around his apartment and demonstrated how Chan and his group do their business. The meeting was set up after weeks of “on-again, off-again e-mail exchanges.” When Chen finally agreed, “CNN was told to meet them on the island of Zhoushan, just south of Shanghai and a major port for China’s navy.”

Chen also runs an online community that sports more than 10,000 registered users, providing hacking articles, tools, news, and flash tutorials. He claims the website has been in operation for more than three years.

“There is a saying,” says Chen, “’Know about both yourself and the enemy, and you will be invincible.'”

Many now look to China as the biggest source of the world’s cybercrime, with a December 2007 report from McAffee calling the internet a front for “the next Cold War” as a new black market emerges for hacking tools and information. When the Chinese military was suspected to be hacking into Pentagon computers around June of last year, Beijing called the accusations “groundless” and accused U.S. officials of having a “Cold War mentality.”

Chen claims that he and his associates have hacked into some of the most prolific and secretive web sites in the world, including internal sites for the Pentagon. While he could not provide proof to back up these claims, he did admit that his associates were paid after-the-fact by the Chinese government for information gleaned from the Pentagon attack.

“I am telling you honestly, the Chinese government does not do such a thing,” said Chinese official Gang Qin, responding to Chen’s allegations.

James Mulvenon, who works for the Center for Intelligence Research and Analysis, called Chen and his ilk “useful idiots for the Beijing regime,” noting that they are tolerated provided they “do not conduct attacks inside of China.”

Government entities aren't the only targets of hackers these days. 2007 was a banner year for cyber hackers with regards to personal information. According to the Identity Theft Resource Center (ITRC) and non-profit groups, there were over 79 million reports of compromised personal data records for 2007 according to the ITRC -- this compares to roughly 20 million reports during all of 2006.

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The Future of America
By borowki on 3/7/2008 8:22:06 PM , Rating: -1
With all these Chinese hacker poised to undermine our way of life, our nation needs a president who's ready on day one. We cannot afford another president who learns on the job. Barack Obama has no experience with computer security. He will protect neither your computer nor your children's computers. We need someone who offers solutions, and that person is Hillary Clinton.

RE: The Future of America
By Duwelon on 3/7/2008 8:25:29 PM , Rating: 2
Clearly, the one with the most experience is Elmer Fudd. Elmer Fudd for President!

RE: The Future of America
By bryanW1995 on 3/7/2008 8:33:50 PM , Rating: 5
no, we need al gore, he invented the internet!

RE: The Future of America
By Some1ne on 3/7/2008 8:45:34 PM , Rating: 5
You're logic is self-defeating. The Internet is what the Chinese are using to try to hasten our downfall, so the last person we need as president is the very individual who provided the world with the tools for our destruction in the first place.

You must be a Chinese spy in disguise!

RE: The Future of America
By jadeskye on 3/7/2008 9:02:47 PM , Rating: 2
we could always try and get bill gates to run for prez. Asia doesn't seem to have much love for microsoft.

RE: The Future of America
By Ashrac on 3/8/2008 12:57:37 AM , Rating: 2
But then neither does the EU

RE: The Future of America
By sporr on 3/8/2008 6:02:24 AM , Rating: 2
But then neither does the world.

RE: The Future of America
By michael67 on 3/8/08, Rating: 0
RE: The Future of America
By Ashrac on 3/8/2008 11:31:59 AM , Rating: 4
Wow, you so totally didn't get any of this thread.

RE: The Future of America
By bupkus on 3/7/08, Rating: -1
RE: The Future of America
By KeypoX on 3/7/08, Rating: 0
By lexluthermiester on 3/8/2008 9:16:41 AM , Rating: 1
No he doesn't. And if you had ever read/heard that statement you would understand. Or maybe not, understanding greatly depends on intelligence...

RE: The Future of America
By xRyanCat on 3/9/2008 7:01:30 PM , Rating: 2
Actually, he doesn't.


Al Gore was, however, a big advocate of the Internet and what it could do. As a politician he did have an impact on the development of the Internet. Whether or not his impact was significant is arguable.

Its one of the quotes that we all like to get behind and spread around, but it is largely taken out of context.

RE: The Future of America
By kyleb2112 on 3/13/2008 11:00:09 AM , Rating: 2
Yeah, I'm a hugely critical of Gore, but that particular knock on him was always BS. One of those things that just got repeated too many times with nobody bothering to look up the original quote. No reason to perpetuate it when there are so many more legitimate arguments against him.

Or, Him, I should say lest he strike me down.

RE: The Future of America
By SlyNine on 3/7/2008 8:37:31 PM , Rating: 2
Its not my children's computer I'm worried about, its my children. Personally I think China is heading towards a revolution, all the media outlets, ease of gaining information and distributing it in privet among each other. The growth alone should trigger change. Yes this could be wishful thinking.

RE: The Future of America
By mankopi on 3/7/2008 8:46:23 PM , Rating: 5
Did you say tasted? where was Hilary Clinton tested? All these experience crap she keeps talking about, can you please tell me what her EXPERIENCE in the job of being President is? Does being the wife of a President give her the experience? If that's the case, my wife is a Surgeon, based on that experience, I stand here and claim I can perform a heart transplant to anyone in need. I'm sure you will laugh at this statement, so should you when Hilary claims experience of being a president.

RE: The Future of America
By fk49 on 3/7/2008 8:51:23 PM , Rating: 2
Did you say broken sarcasm meter?

RE: The Future of America
By xsilver on 3/8/2008 12:59:27 AM , Rating: 1
I think its broken just like his surgery skills.

If his wife was really a surgeon then he WOULD actually have better skills than a regular schmuck on the street; for some reason he cant see that.

And by his standards there are only 4 people with enough people to be president, carter, bush senior, bill clinton, and W bush. Everyone else is either not enough experience or dead.

RE: The Future of America
By jconan on 3/7/2008 8:53:11 PM , Rating: 1
didn't Hillary despise Gore and his inventions including the internet? lol. We need the Terminator or the Skynet they're ready from day 1 to deploy worldwide... HRC and the ilk, they're just a bunch of lawyers and how many lawyers does it take to run the internet?

RE: The Future of America
By fic2 on 3/7/2008 9:12:49 PM , Rating: 4
how many lawyers does it take to run the internet?

5 - 1 to call tech support to find out where the on switch is and 4 to file lawsuits on behalf of people that can't find on switches.

By nothingtoseehere on 3/9/2008 5:33:21 AM , Rating: 1
how many lawyers does it take to ruin the internet?

There, fixed that for you.

RE: The Future of America
By eman7613 on 3/8/08, Rating: -1
RE: The Future of America
By FITCamaro on 3/8/2008 8:16:31 AM , Rating: 4
Yeah. Hillary's a good choice. I mean she's already got plenty of ties to the Chinese since she and her husband have sold US secrets to them for campaign dollars. She'll be in a great position to negotiate with them for the rest of America.

RE: The Future of America
By Megadeth on 3/10/08, Rating: 0
"It looks like the iPhone 4 might be their Vista, and I'm okay with that." -- Microsoft COO Kevin Turner
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