Feeds

Chinese Feds demand computer virus samples

Ministry of nefarious research

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

Build a business case: developing custom apps

China's Ministry of Public Security has been requiring Western anti-virus vendors to supply samples of malicious code as a condition of doing business with Mainland consumers, the Wall Street Journal reports.

The official Chinese explanation would have us believe that the secret police have lately gone into the consumer protection business by claiming that the samples are necessary to enable the Feds to test the effectiveness of the software being sold.

Tantalized by the glittering promise of 1.2 billion (largely penniless) consumers, Network Associates, Symantec and Trend Micro have graciously complied, offering up approximately 300 virus samples to curry favor enough to sell their products in the PRC.

What the Chinese Feds really intend with these samples is unclear, but we can be confident that the consumer-protection cover story is the last explanation likely to be true.

It's long been known that China is developing a cyber-warfare capability, since it lacks the technological sophistication, manufacturing capacity and raw capital required to compete head-to-head with military juggernauts like the USA, EU, and, until recent years, Russia.

Beijing clearly sees information warfare as an inexpensive battlefield equalizer. But according to the Journal report, only the most common malicious programs in circulation -- all of which are easily detected -- have been surrendered.

Most of these are available on the Web to anyone capable of using a search engine with a modicum of ingenuity.

It seems implausible, then, that the PLA and internal security apparatus would rely on submissions from vendors when a thorough Web search will yield much the same raw material.

Nevertheless it's beyond question that the Chinese authorities intend to secure for themselves the capability of launching devastating cyber attacks. With that in mind, we might make sense of this trend if we consider that they might wish to see a broad sample of detectable viruses in hopes of modifying them to evade detection without diluting their effectiveness.

We can also be confident that they're gleefully breaking every copyright law known to man, reversing the anti-virus software in search of other weaknesses they can exploit along those lines.

Incredibly, Network Associates Research Director Vincent Gullotto is quoted by the Journal saying that he's "met with [the Ministry of Public Security], developed a certain level of trust, and believes they're doing what they're talking to us about."

Isn't it remarkable how greed can instantly transform a jaded businessman into a gullible Pollyanna? ®

Build a business case: developing custom apps

More from The Register

next story
iPad? More like iFAD: We reveal why Apple fell into IBM's arms
But never fear fanbois, you're still lapping up iPhones, Macs
Sonos AXES support for Apple's iOS4 and 5
Want to use your iThing? You can't - it's too old
Amazon says Hachette should lower ebook prices, pay authors more
Oh yeah ... and a 30% cut for Amazon to seal the deal
Philip K Dick 'Nazi alternate reality' story to be made into TV series
Amazon Studios, Ridley Scott firm to produce The Man in the High Castle
Joe Average isn't worth $10 a year to Mark Zuckerberg
The Social Network deflates the PC resurgence with mobile-only usage prediction
Chips are down at Broadcom: Thousands of workers laid off
Cellphone baseband device biz shuttered
Feel free to BONK on the TUBE, says Transport for London
Plus: Almost NOBODY uses pay-by-bonk on buses - Visa
Nintend-OH NO! Sorry, Mario – your profits are in another castle
Red-hatted mascot, red-colored logo, red-stained finance books
Twitch rich as Google flicks $1bn hitch switch, claims snitch
Gameplay streaming biz and search king refuse to deny fresh gobble rumors
Stick a 4K in them: Super high-res TVs are DONE
4,000 pixels is niche now... Don't say we didn't warn you
prev story

Whitepapers

Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.
Why and how to choose the right cloud vendor
The benefits of cloud-based storage in your processes. Eliminate onsite, disk-based backup and archiving in favor of cloud-based data protection.
The Essential Guide to IT Transformation
ServiceNow discusses three IT transformations that can help CIO's automate IT services to transform IT and the enterprise.
Maximize storage efficiency across the enterprise
The HP StoreOnce backup solution offers highly flexible, centrally managed, and highly efficient data protection for any enterprise.