China Renews Spam War Despite DoS Threat

A government-backed Chinese Internet group, the Internet Society of China (ISC), on Tuesday has taken steps to block the e-mail traffic of 127 servers suspected of sending out spam, according to China’s official Xinhua News Agency.

The move was characterized as “the first large-scale spammer blockade launched by the Chinese Internet industry,” according to Ren Jinqiang, an official of the ISC was quoted by Xinhua. If, after three months, any of the servers stop trying to spam, then the sanctions on them may be lifted.

But the Chinese government — which has often been criticized for not doing enough to fight spammers — takes the latest measures despite known risks of retribution. There is a report that the ISC has been hit by multiple denial of service (DoS) attacks.

Last month, the ISC, a state-run group comprised of 140 members of Chinese private companies, schools and research institutes, published a list of 225 spam servers around the world, sending a signal it is acutely aware of the global problem of spam.

But after last month’s actions, the Chinese government-backed Internet group was hit by two DoS attacks between August 21 and August 27 by “spam server operators,” according to a report published Wednesday by Interfax, the Moscow-based news agency.

Interfax quoted the ISC as saying the DoS attacks came from IP addresses it had
identified as delivering massive amounts of spam. The Interfax report went
onto say that the spam server operators used “distributed denial-of-service
(DDoS) methods.”

But the Chinese government is now expanding its spam-blocking campaign. Xinhua said ninety of the 127 servers shutdown were based in Taiwan, while it said only 8 were from mainland China, and the other 29 were from elsewhere. The government news agency provided no other details.

Internet access in China has grown significantly in the past few years, and
now is the world’s second largest population of Internet users behind the U.S.

While Internet use is permitted in many businesses and schools, the
government is actively involved in censoring chat rooms, blocking access to
sites it deems controversial, including a number of non-Chinese-based sites
run by global news organizations, human rights groups and government
dissidents.

And while there is news of DoS attacks and spam server shutdowns, there are
other reports saying that the government’s spam crackdown has not been
without mistakes.

Previously, Interfax reported that an e-mail server of Shanghai Online’s,
the leading ISP in Shanghai, was one of eight domestic Chinese spam servers
that were blocked by the ISC’s actions. Shanghai Online said its e-mail
services will not be affected by the ISC’s action.

In recent months, China has been criticized for enabling thousands of
spammers to setup within the massive communist-controlled country. There are
also reports of hackers operating from within China, who may be invading the
government’s own computers.

The Taipei Times reported on August 21 that The National Police
Administration (NPA) denied reports that its computer system had been attacked by
Chinese hackers and that classified information was stolen.

China’s NPA computers hold an immense amount of documents, records and data
on every registered vehicle owner and criminal in the country. The report
said the only way access to the computers could have been through a terminal
inside the NPA.

Two different Chinese language newspapers had reported that several Chinese
hackers from the Hubei Province had been attacking the government’s police
records database as far back as April. Those reports went onto say that
special agents from the Ministry of Justice’s Bureau of Investigation took
three months to identify and locate the hackers, discovering in the end that
they were Chinese government officials. The government denies any truth to
the reports.

The Chinese Bureau of Investigation’s public relations department did issue
a press release following the reports of hacker invasions, saying “we have
never heard of such a thing and have never investigated to tried to locate
any Chinese hackers.”

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