China not enemy in fight against cybercrime

The Asian giant is often portrayed as the perpetrator of cyberattacks and online espionage but one Chinese official says it is a victim too, and is eager to play a bigger role in fighting cybercrime.
Written by Ellyne Phneah, Contributor

SINGAPORE--China tend to be targeted for blame when the latest cyberattack is conducted or when trade secrets of other countries are stolen. However, one Chinese official pointed out that the country is also a target for such attacks but it is seldom given a chance to contribute to international efforts to fight against online crimes.

That was the view of Du Yuejin, deputy CTO of national computer emergency response team (CERT) and coordination center of China, who was speaking at the Cybersecurity and Cyberterrorism Conference here on Thursday.

Du said there is a lot of "misunderstanding" toward China today in the cybersecurity realm as many countries assume it is behind many online attacks and attempts to steal state and industrial secrets from governments and private sector organizations to gain an edge politically and economically.

He cited Chinese telecoms equipment vendors Huawei Technologies and ZTE as examples, saying these companies face constant scrutiny and allegations from the U.S. of working with its government to steal trade secrets by monitoring the hardware they sell to American companies.

This fear shown by other countries was also mentioned by industry watchers earlier, when they said China's rising stature in the tech arena posed economic concerns for many developed countries, especially those in the West. Benjamin Cavender, senior analyst at China Market Research, for one, observed the rising influence of Chinese companies in the global IT marketplace could bring tension among other economies most notably the U.S.

Additionally, the country is often excluded from having a voice in global security conferences, the official noted. The annual RSA security conference, for example, goes by the theme of "where the world talks about security" but China is omitted from participating, which he finds "a pity".

This is because, like any other country, China-based organizations are also targets for cyberattacks. Using China's CERT report in March, Du said 47,000 foreign Internet Protocol (IP) addresses had been involved in remotely accessing and controlling computers in China, with some 9,528 U.S.-based IP addresses alone controlling 8.85 million computers in China.

International collaboration needed to stop online crimes
The deputy CTO stressed that the real enemies in the war against cybercrime are those who "abuse information, communication, and technology and exploit vulnerabilities", and countries should not be fighting against each other.

"The misunderstanding against China should be eliminated and everyone must work together to fight against the real enemy," he stated.

Moving forward, he hopes there will be more opportunities for China to have a say in international conferences and countries will start to view China as an ally, not enemy, in the fight against cybercrime, the official said.

Some of its contributions to the cause can be seen in its efforts to foster global collaboration by asking governments to guard against online threats in a 2002 proposal to the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), he pointed out.

China also established an Asean (Association of South East Asian Nations)-China Framework for network and information security emergency responses in the area of information sharing for IT security, Du added.

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