Spies for rent: the new breed of Chinese hackers mix spy and entrepreneurship

A post by Hainan Xiandun stood out. The announcement, posted on a Sichuan University IT recruiting committee from 2018, boasted that Xia...


A post by Hainan Xiandun stood out. The announcement, posted on a Sichuan University IT recruiting committee from 2018, boasted that Xiandun had “received a considerable number of cases related to government secrecy.”

The company, based in Haikou, the capital of Hainan, paid monthly salaries of $ 1,200 to $ 3,000 – solid middle-class wages for Chinese tech workers fresh out of college – with bonuses up to $ 15,000. Xiandun’s ads listed an email address used by other companies seeking cybersecurity experts and linguists, suggesting they were part of a network.

Chinese hacking groups “are increasingly sharing malware, exploits and coordinating their efforts,” the operators of “Intrusion Truth” wrote in an email. The operators did not disclose their identity, citing the sensitivity of their work.

Xiandun’s registered address was the Hainan University Library. His phone number matched that of a computer professor and People’s Liberation Army veteran who ran a website that offered payments to students with new ideas on password cracking. The professor has not been charged.

Further records and phone numbers led the blog’s authors to an email address and frequent flyer account belonging to Ding Xiaoyang, one of the company’s executives.

The indictment claimed that Mr. Ding was a state security agent who directed hackers working in Hainan Xiandun. It included details the blog couldn’t find, such as an award Mr. Ding received from the State Security Ministry for the organization’s young leaders.

Mr. Ding and others named in the indictment could not be reached.

Although traceable for now, the Chinese state security apparatus may be learning to hide its fingerprints better, said Matthew Brazil, a former China specialist for the Commerce Ministry’s Export Control Bureau. who co-wrote a Chinese espionage study.

“The capabilities of Chinese services are uneven,” he said. “Their game is improving, and in five or 10 years it will be a different story.”

Nicole perlroth contributed reports.

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Newsrust - US Top News: Spies for rent: the new breed of Chinese hackers mix spy and entrepreneurship
Spies for rent: the new breed of Chinese hackers mix spy and entrepreneurship
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