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News has just been released about the shutting down of what is believed to be the "biggest hacker training site" in China. This is good news.
Three people from the Hubei province were arrested and the website was closed down. The site was known as the "Black Hawk Safety Net". It is reported that, since it was established in 2005, the site had recruited more than 12,000 VIP members and collected more than 7,000,000 yuan in membership fees. More than 170,000 people had registered for free membership to the site.
According to the reports, more than 50 police officers were involved in the investigation of the case. They seized nine web servers, five computers and one car. They also shut down all the web sites involved with the case.
Now, the size and scale of such a hacker based organization may be considered alarming, but to some of us not exactly surprising.
But what I find really interesting here is the timing of the announcement regarding these arrests and the subsequent shutting down of the website.
This is old news. Apparently, this all occurred in November, 2009. So why wasn't it announced then? Why now…? Call me cynical if you like, but I can't help but suspect that this news has been released now in an effort by Chinese authorities to try and bolster their claims that they do not condone hacking, following claims that the recent attacks on Google and many other foreign companies in China had been backed by the Chinese government.
What better way to prove your commitment to stamping out hacking activities than to come up with a news report to show what you are doing about the problem. The fact that this actually happened (assuming it did happen…) about three months ago seems to have been largely glossed over in many of the news items I have seen about this event.
You make up your own mind. But I tend to think this is a news story that has been announced for its convenient timing, more than anything else….
Senior Cybercrime Research Analyst
Author ESET Research, ESET