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China to Upgrade Mechanism for Safer Internet

China is expected to pass a new set of rules and regulations to gradually establish an Internet emergency control mechanism this year in a fresh effort to curb soaring Internet hacks and attacks that have seriously threatened the safety of public and private information, Friday's China Youth Daily reported.

"China should increase cooperation between different departments and arouse the entire society so as to form an Internet emergency control mechanism that is agile, sensitive and effective," said an official with the Ministry of Information Industry, for whom the paper gave no name.

He said the mechanism should serve to ensure all Internet-related safety incidents are detected in time, and analyzed and responded to promptly.

Soaring Internet incident reports have alarmed both the Chinese government and companies.

In 2004, the National Computer Network Emergency Response Technical Team/Coordination Center (CNCERT), a key body responsible for collecting domestic Internet incidents, received a total of 64,686 incident reports, nearly five times that of the previous year.

Among all the reports, 45.91 percent were about web page modifications and the rest junk mails or viruses including 'the worm' and the 'Trojan horses' that have troubled Chinese netizens for years.

Statistics from the center also found government websites turn out to be the easiest targets for attackers.

"Today's Internet virus is far more contagious than those in nature," said the center. "The government should add more helpful rules to its current legal system so as to form a more favorable legal environment."

The paper acknowledged that the use of visa accounts, user names, passwords and social welfare numbers has become a favorite measure of attackers to steal money.

Many websites of domestic financial institutions, including the Bank of China, have been mimiced, according to early reports by local media.

In 2004, CNCERT received 223 reports of mimicing, in sharp contrast to only one case in 2002 and 2003. The victims were mainly financial and electronic websites.

As e-commerce, online payment services and bank business become more popular, so do the impersonations, it said.

"It's simply a monster from science fictions. It can not only reproduce and spread itself but also produce offspring that are totally different in types," said Cai Jun, a Chinese anti-virus expert, describing a newly appeared "I-Worm.Jeans.a" worm which is believed to be one created by "29A", a notorious virus maker.

The virus' features change frequently and automatically after infecting a computer, he said, noting that that characteristic makes the virus hard to delete.

According to an Internet safety report by Symantec, a transnational that provides anti-virus solutions, of all the 50 top new computer threats it detected in 2004, 27 viruses are used to steal clients' personal information. In 2003, the number was 18.

"Theft of individuals' identification information such as bank account password and credit card number is quite likely to become more rampant in 2005," predicted Symantec.

Like those in Western countries, both Chinese authorities and companies which have now fully realized the damage that can be caused by Internet crimes are carrying out campaigns against them.

According to statistics, Internet-related counterfeit and fraud led to global losses of about US$32.2 billion in 2003.

(Xinhua News Agency April 2, 2005)

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