Feeds

Cyber gang made £30 MILLION from fake gov certs

Hacked official sites to make phony qualifications

Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence

Chinese police are celebrating the arrest of a nationwide cyber crime gang suspected of making over £30 million by selling fake professional qualifications, which they helped to produce by hacking into government web sites.

Police have arrested 165 people so far, scattered across 12 provinces. A whopping 185 government sites are thought to have been breached by the gang, according to China Daily.

The group made their money by selling fake qualifications certifying the recipient in fields such as medicine, financial services and architecture, with over 30,000 people suspected of having bought the dodgy certificates.

The gang’s USP, and the reason it could charge up to 10,000 yuan (£1,000) per certificate, was that it could hack the relevant government site and tamper with the back-end database to ensure that the fake cert’s name and registration number appeared legitimate.

Police in Jieyang, Guangdong province cracked the case when city officials raised the alarm after spotting that an illegal link had been added to one of the local government web sites.

The gang was found to be a highly organised and extensive network of individuals, each with different responsibilities – some would hack the government sites, some would manufacture the certificates and seals, others would advertise their services, and so on.

"The gang tampered with official databases or added links to external databases so that if anyone checked up on the fake certificates, the client's name would appear," said Chen Xiaoping, head of Jieyang police's cyber crime unit.

"They have a strong idea on how not to get caught. They used overseas servers and bank accounts of strangers, whose details were bought online."

Roy Ko, centre manager of the Hong Kong Computer Emergency Response Team (HKCERT), said the news was not surprising, given the huge demand for professional qualifications in China which already leads to widespread cheating at exams.

“Hacker groups will do anything to optimise their profit, by the easiest means. Obtaining personal credentials and re-selling them cannot generate quick money,” he told The Reg.

“There were already channels to get fake certificates. This is just going one step further, to ensure the fake certificates can actually be found on official web sites.” ®

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

More from The Register

next story
FYI: OS X Yosemite's Spotlight tells Apple EVERYTHING you're looking for
It's on by default – didn't you read the small print?
Russian hackers exploit 'Sandworm' bug 'to spy on NATO, EU PCs'
Fix imminent from Microsoft for Vista, Server 2008, other stuff
Edward who? GCHQ boss dodges Snowden topic during last speech
UK spies would rather 'walk' than do 'mass surveillance'
Microsoft pulls another dodgy patch
Redmond makes a hash of hashing add-on
NOT OK GOOGLE: Android images can conceal code
It's been fixed, but hordes won't have applied the upgrade
'LulzSec leader Aush0k' found to be naughty boy not worthy of jail
15 months home detention leaves egg on feds' faces as they grab for more power
China is ALREADY spying on Apple iCloud users, claims watchdog
Attack harvests users' info at iPhone 6 launch
prev story

Whitepapers

Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
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.
Three 1TB solid state scorchers up for grabs
Big SSDs can be expensive but think big and think free because you could be the lucky winner of one of three 1TB Samsung SSD 840 EVO drives that we’re giving away worth over £300 apiece.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.