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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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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.

"If you mod me down, I will become more insightful than you can possibly imagine." -- Slashdot
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