- POSTED: 18 Sep 2013 22:34
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Chinese lawmakers have been holding meetings in Beijing in recent months to draft out new laws and systems to boost the country's cybersecurity.
SHANGHAI: Chinese lawmakers have been holding meetings in Beijing in recent months to draft out new laws and systems to boost the country's cybersecurity.
This comes after former National Security Agency (NSA) contractor Edward Snowden revealed that the US had been tapping into China's online and mobile data.
However, the more immediate threat for China comes from the country’s own cyber criminals taking advantage of a very vulnerable online economy.
CEO of PeopleNet Tan Jianfeng's data security business has been getting a lot more phone calls over the last two months.
His company, which specialises in providing secure password authentication systems, has seen more enquiries and orders both from China's government and private sector, thanks to the Snowden affair.
Disclosures by the ex-NSA contractor about the US tapping into China's internet hubs and cellphones have raised concerns about cybersecurity on the mainland.
Mr Tan said: "Companies enquire about which technology and product to use and whether domestic products can meet overseas standards. Unlike (in) the past, when they would just use the overseas security products that come bundled with the computers."
Mr Tan added his latest clients include banks and telecom providers who were using foreign systems but decided to switch to Chinese suppliers after the Snowden incident.
But it is not just the Snowden effect that is driving growth in China's IT security sector.
China's online computing market is also booming. Internet transactions, for example, were worth more than US$134 trillion last year.
And with the increased online transactions, internet crime is also on the rise.
In one cyber-theft case last year, over 40 million passwords were allegedly stolen by hackers from an online forum.
Hacking is said to have resulted in over US$850 million of damage and data loss in 2011.
Mr Tan elaborated: "75 per cent of local websites are unsafe. Or we can say loopholes exist which are easy for Trojan hacking programmes to penetrate. Many who use their computers to go online will get hit."
Experts said the widespread use of pirated software and Chinese companies' indifference to internet security have allowed hackers to thrive.
Existing China-made data protection systems are often seen as less stable than their foreign counterparts.
Richard Niemiec, CEO of TUSC (Oracle consulting firm based in US), said: "Systems that haven't gone through this rigorous testing, that don't have an international community, that don't have an outside audit, that don't have an encrypted backup, that don't have encrypted records in their system, then I worry about those systems."
The lack of law to protect individuals’ personal information online or a company's virtual network assets has made it difficult in some cases to convict cybercriminals.
What the Snowden case has done in China is raise urgency amongst lawmakers who have been holding numerous meetings in recent months to work out new laws and systems to prevent further attacks.
However, the process will not been easy as China's network security is inherently vulnerable due to the fragmented nature of its internet and businesses.