As cyber security needs become an overriding concern, China works on an impenetrable shield

By Shan Jie in Nanjing Source:Global Times Published: 2018/5/20 19:18:39

White-hat hackers work on attacking the Cyber Mimic Defense system on May 11. Photo: Courtesy to the Qiangwang International Elite Challenge

China is developing an innovative system to strengthen its cyber defence, testing the mechanism by making scores of white-hat hackers launch hundreds of thousands of attacks.

The Cyber Mimic Defense (CMD), a "game-changing" domestically-developed cyber defense system, was presented to the world for the first time in mid-May. White-hat hackers from all over the world competed to help improve China's cyber defence as part of an attack drill.

Strong shield

CMD, the new mechanism, successfully thwarted over 500,000 hacker attacks by 22 ethical computer-hacking teams from five countries at the Qiangwang International Elite Challenge in Nanjing, capital of East China's Jiangsu Province, on May 12.

The mimic defense system features an ever-changing software environment, which makes conventional hacking attacks difficult to locate a target, according to the Xinhua News Agency.

"This is the first time the CMD system is being used as the 'target machine' in the world," said Wu Jiangxing, an academician at the Chinese Academy of Engineering (CAE) in Beijing and founder of the theory of CMD. The proactive system's randomness increases the level of difficulty for the attacks.

During the three-day challenge, bouts of attacks from several teams were frustrated even after they were given access to install backdoors to the system, the CAE said.

Finally, a Russian hacking team finished at the first place with the most points, followed by Japan's TokyoWesterns and 0ops of Jiaotong University in Shanghai.

According to members of the Russian hacking team, after the challenge, the participants would provide suggestions to developers of the system and prepare themselves for the upcoming competitions. "Travel and hack is awesome," said a member.

"This competition is like a real-battle exercise for us," Sun Yiqi, a participant and senior student at the Beijing University of Posts and Telecommunications, told the Global Times.

The test conducted by top hackers was significant in proving the effectiveness of the CMD mechanism, Wu believed.


"With the expansion of cyber space, security issue clouds the whole internet. Each product would have holes and backdoors, including every mobile phone or even cyber security device," Wu told the Global Times.

However, the CMD system is expected to change the current "ex post-facto defense" pattern in cybersecurity, according to Wu. "Digging holes, creating backdoors, planting viruses, hiding a Trojan horse and other traditional attack methods proved ineffective."

"The CMD, as a game-changing technology, will strengthen national cyberspace security and offer a way to build a healthy global cyberspace with a shared future," Wu said.

Inspired by Mimic Octopus, the master of disguise in nature that can change appearance to adapt to the environment, Chinese scientists proposed the idea of mimic computing in 2007 and produced the world's first mimic computer prototype in 2013, according to Xinhua in January.

The system still needs testing, Wu said, but can be expected to be further developed and used in fields including finance, electricity and high-speed railways.

China's top legislature on November 7, 2016 adopted the Cyber Security Law to safeguard sovereignty over cyberspace, national security and the rights of citizens.

The Cyberspace Administration of China (CAC) in 2017 released a cyberspace security strategy, advocating peace, security, openness, cooperation and order. The government will guarantee cyberspace sovereignty and national security, protect information and act against cyber terror and crimes, it read.

Besides the Qiangwang challenge in Nanjing, on May 13, DEF CON CHINA, a hackers' meeting known as the "Oscars" of cyber security, closed in Beijing, marking its first-ever activity outside the US in 26 years.

If a cyber security problem confronts the world, it would be for China and the US, the world's two top economies to take it on, China National Radio reported.

Newspaper headline: What the hack!

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