Draft plan aims to ensure data security

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China plans to step up the development of data security products and services, as part of a broader push to cultivate its cybersecurity industry into a 250 billion yuan ($38.6 billion) sector by 2023.

The Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, the industry regulator, said in a draft three-year plan released on Monday that more efforts are needed to enhance capabilities in data management, with a focus on ensuring security in the storage, transfer and privacy of data. The move came as data security becomes a prerequisite for digital economic prowess and countries worldwide ramp up regulatory measures to better govern and protect data assets, experts said.

The draft plan called for more efforts to build capabilities in intelligently managing data, optimizing data classification and strengthening data protection, on top of preventing data theft, tampering and leaking.

The nation also aims to achieve breakthroughs in a number of crucial cybersecurity technologies by 2023, with accelerated integration of emerging technologies and cybersecurity services, the draft plan said.

Last year, the market size of China's cybersecurity industry exceeded 170 billion yuan, twice the size of 2015, according to figures from the China Academy of Information and Communications Technology, a Beijing-based think tank.

As of 2020, China had more than 3,000 enterprises engaged in cybersecurity-related business, covering network security equipment, services, software and system integration, the academy said.

Du Guangda, deputy director of the cybersecurity administration of the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, said that "Data has become a new type of production factor, having an important impact on economic development, social governance and people's daily lives and work."

Wu Hequan, an academician at the Chinese Academy of Engineering, said data security is of increasing importance, with the accelerated digital transformation of China.

Data security is not just about technology companies. It is also becoming increasingly relevant to companies in traditional sectors, as the real economy becomes intertwined with the digital economy, and as more industrial, manufacturing and medical data go online, Wu said.

Such risks were reflected in a ransomware attack that affected up to 1,500 businesses globally this month, Reuters reported.

Amid rising risks, countries worldwide are placing increased importance on data security and play their part in regulating companies. Television broadcaster CNBC reported that United States President Joe Biden signed an executive order last month to protect personal data from foreign adversaries. The order sets criteria for the US government to evaluate the risk of apps linked to such adversaries, including the threat to national security.

On Monday, shares of Chinese cybersecurity companies surged on the heels of the draft plan. Qi-Anxin Technology Group shares skyrocketed by 20 percent on the Science and Technology Innovation Board of the Shanghai Stock Exchange.

Qi Xiangdong, chairman of Qi-Anxin, said: "New cybersecurity challenges have popped up with the development of new technologies such as the internet of things. Governments and enterprises need to ramp up efforts to establish a complete network security system to combat the rising cyberattacks."

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