Most govt websites unsafe: report

By Agatha Yuen Source:Global Times Published: 2014-9-19 0:58:01

Lack of safeguards opens doors to fraud, hackers, spam

More than half of the government websites have been deemed unsafe due to a lack of proper safeguards, according to a recent report published by the National Computer Virus Emergency Response Center.

The center last year surveyed 2,714 government websites, finding security vulnerabilities at 1,367 of them, or 50.4 percent. Over 21,200 security loopholes were discovered.

The report also said that some government websites lack even basic protections like firewalls or anti-virus software, leaving their page contents at high risk of alterations.

These security loopholes can facilitate the spread of Trojan horses and viruses to users who visit these pages, opening the door to spam e-mails and leaks of users' private information.

Qin An, head of the China Institute for Innovation and Development Strategy, said that he is not surprised by the statistics, since the Internet security industry in China is still less developed than in other countries such as the United States.

"The government should invest more in the cyber security industry. By doing so, more Internet security companies could be established and more Internet specialists could be trained to develop our cyber security techniques," he said.

Tang Lan, deputy head at the China Institute for Contemporary International Relations, told the Global Times that there are two main reasons why hackers attack a government website. "First, some hackers spread malicious message on government websites because they want to destroy the image of the government body. Second, some would sell Internet users' private information to other cyber criminals for money after hacking into government websites," said Tang.

Tang explained that information such as citizens' identity numbers, phone numbers and addresses can be sold for a high price because cyber criminals can use them to register for a fake credit card or perpetrate other similar forms of fraud.

Tang also said some government organs lack common Internet security sense, which makes their websites easy targets for hackers.

"Some government bodies only focus on providing public services after creating their websites but lack a sophisticated in-house information technology department to keep an eye on Internet security," she said.

"Hacking techniques are evolving rapidly, the government therefore needs to have some specialists to target these problems and work out solutions," she added.

"People should avoid downloading any unknown applications to their smart phones. When accessing government websites, remember to check the Internet address carefully. Internet users should also update their anti-virus software regularly," Tang advised.

A government website in Anhui Province had gambling advertisements implanted on its main page last year. In the same year, a local government website in Liaoning Province was forced to shut down because it was automatically redirected to a pornographic site.

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