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An investigation into Chinese cybercrime and the underground economy in comparison with the West

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If you have a question about this talk, please contact Wei Ming Khoo.

With 420 million Internet users, China has become the world’s largest Internet population and the Chinese cyber-security has become globally significant. In this investigation, cybercrimes in China were studied from both sociological and technical perspectives using an array of methods including literature review, passive monitoring of online forums and interest groups as well as establishing direct contact with the Chinese cybercriminals.

Hacking was found to be immensely popular in China with a population of 3.8 million registered users spanning across just 19 online hacker forums. Financial and political factors were found to be the main motivations for Chinese cybercriminals. Observations from the Chinese hacktivist forums during recent Chinese cyber-attacks against Japan has brought to light some valuable insights into the true state of hacktivism in China and the level of tolerance from the Chinese government towards such actions.

Furthermore, it was found that not only do organised cybercrimes exist in China but also an underground economy as sophisticated as that in the West is flourishing at a rapid pace. Estimates from Chinese security experts suggest that the size of the Chinese underground economy may be much larger than that observed in the West. With the support of the Serious Organised Crime Agency (SOCA), the frameworks of organised cybercrime as observed in the West were compared with those observed in China. Significant similarities and differences were found including differences in the tools of trade used and some of the pricing of goods and services advertised in the underground economy. A generic mapping of the underground economy was deduced from the comparison of frameworks.

This talk is part of the Computer Laboratory Security Seminar series.

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