Feeds

Chinese Feds demand computer virus samples

Ministry of nefarious research

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence

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? ®

Top 5 reasons to deploy VMware with Tegile

More from The Register

next story
Musicians sue UK.gov over 'zero pay' copyright fix
Everyone else in Europe compensates us - why can't you?
Bladerunner sequel might actually be good. Harrison Ford is in it
Go ahead, you're all clear, kid... Sorry, wrong film
I'll be back (and forward): Hollywood's time travel tribulations
Quick, call the Time Cops to sort out this paradox!
Megaupload overlord Kim Dotcom: The US HAS RADICALISED ME!
Now my lawyers have bailed 'cos I'm 'OFFICIALLY' BROKE
Forget Hillary, HP's ex CARLY FIORINA 'wants to be next US Prez'
Former CEO has political ambitions again, according to Washington DC sources
Euro Parliament VOTES to BREAK UP GOOGLE. Er, OK then
It CANNA do it, captain.They DON'T have the POWER!
prev story

Whitepapers

10 ways wire data helps conquer IT complexity
IT teams can automatically detect problems across the IT environment, spot data theft, select unique pieces of transaction payloads to send to a data source, and more.
A strategic approach to identity relationship management
ForgeRock commissioned Forrester to evaluate companies’ IAM practices and requirements when it comes to customer-facing scenarios versus employee-facing ones.
10 threats to successful enterprise endpoint backup
10 threats to a successful backup including issues with BYOD, slow backups and ineffective security.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Website security in corporate America
Find out how you rank among other IT managers testing your website's vulnerabilities.