11 Jul 2012

Chinese E-Shoppers under Heavy Trojan and Phishing Fire; Hackers Expected


As China prepares to take over the role of e-commerce super power, its cyber-challenges are skyrocketing. A 30 percent increase in phishing sites – with a staggering 3 million fake banking and shopping websites now active -  and 740 million users under Trojan attack are among the disturbing findings of a Beijing Rising Information (BRI) technology report quoted by China Daily.

“China has more Internet users than the United States and Japan combined, and it already has 145 million online shoppers (second only to 170 million in the U.S.), with exponential growth expected that could bring the number to 329 million by 2015 and make the e-commerce market in China the world’s most valuable”, according to a press release on a Boston Consulting Group Report in November 2011. In March 2012, the Chinese Ministry of Industry and Technology made public its five-year plan for developing e-commerce, revealing an ambitious goal roughly matching these predictions: reaching an 18 trillion yuan goal in e-sales by 2015.

This development plan came with 10 measures to reinforce industry standards and counter piracy and online fraud. The shortcomings of Chinese cyber-commerce, especially related to copyright protection, were officially acknowledged through the listing of Taobao, the largest Chinese e-commerce website, on the United States’ Trading Representatives’ list of copyright infringing websites. The Chinese authorities at the time put the listing down to ill will.

"When referring to Chinese businesses, we noticed that the United States notorious market list would use terms like 'alleged' and 'according to industry information. With ambiguous terms and no conclusive evidence or detailed analysis, this is very irresponsible and not objective," stated Shen Danyang, a spokesman for the Ministry of Commerce Shen, according to Reuters.

The BRI technology report, on the other hand, provides conclusive evidence of major plagues affecting Chinese e-commerce. According to its findings, Taobao users’ finances have been the targets of heavy attacks, with Trojans designed to exploit existing security vulnerabilities of the platform’s partners.

With stakes so high, it’s a matter of time before other cyber profiteers claim their share of this pie. "As online shopping and banking businesses become increasingly popular in the country, a large number of hackers are eyeing e-transaction services in a bid to gain illegal profit", concluded the authors of the BRI report.