Exclusive: Attacking airlines info system, peeping meteorological data around military bases – cases disclosed of overseas spies stealing China’s vital data
Published: Oct 31, 2021 09:53 AM
data security File photo

File photo

A country’s vital data can be stolen in a second by hackers hiding behind screens from far away. This is not only a scene in movies.

In the information era, data can be collected, gathered, dug out and used to promote technology and economic development, which makes the issue of data safety prominent.

Even some open data are of vital significance in terms of national security; once manipulated, Chinese citizens’ interests would be threatened.

The Global Times recently learned about three cases that seriously threatened China’s data security. Overseas spies have never stopped trying to steal China’s vital data.

Airline attack

In January 2020, an unnamed airlines company reported to relevant national security authorities that their information system was under cyberattacks.

The authority immediately launched an investigation and confirmed that the airlines company’s various servers had been planted with Trojan horse programs and some passengers’ data had been stolen.

After thorough investigation, the authority found that the attack was well planned and conducted by an overseas spy and intelligence organization, which used multiple domestic and overseas internet facilities to hide their work.

The Global Times learned that the authority had helped the company clean the programs and adjust security strategies to enhance prevention measures.

Stealing shipping data

In May 2021, a relevant national security authority found that some overseas consulting and survey companies frequently contacted management personnel in major Chinese shipping enterprises and agencies. Under the name of hiring consulting experts with high payments, they reached cooperation with dozens of domestic personnel and asked them to collect data from China’s shipping industry and information of certain cargos.

Investigation also revealed that the overseas company had a close relationship with the spy and intelligence agency in the country it is located. It undertook a lot of work to collect and analyze information for the agency, and provided all the data collected from China to the agency.

The Global Times learned that the Chinese national security authority had warned and educated involved personnel and required the companies involved to enhance personnel management and data protection. The authority had also dealt with the illegal activities conducted by the overseas group in accordance with law.

Collecting meteorological data

In March, the national security authority discovered suspicious meteorological observation facilities nearby a vital domestic military base. The facility was capable of collecting accurate location information and multiple types of meteorological data and would directly send these data to overseas meteorological observation websites.

The facility was purchased by a Chinese citizen surnamed Li. A hundred such facilities had been sold and some were set up in the surrounding areas of some vital places in China.

The so-called meteorological observation website was actually established by a certain country’s government department in the name of scientific research. And one major task of the department was to collect and analyze global meteorological data for military purposes.

The Global Times has learned that the state security authorities and other relevant departments jointly carried out law enforcement and ordered the personnel concerned to remove the equipment immediately, eliminating potential risks.

In recent years, the problem of data security due to data leakage has become more and more prominent. Basic data of China’s various industries and major enterprises is always a target of overseas spy and intelligence agencies, experts said.

Data security is related to national security and public interest, and is an important aspect of non-traditional security. If the sectors of society and the people are not vigilant about such matters, they would be unknowingly used by overseas illegal forces and institutions, allowing these data to be leaked overseas and causing major harm to China’s national security in various fields, experts noted, calling for the public to enhance data security awareness and help safeguard national security.