A new research found that hackers from China have found their way into cracking privacy tools used to unblock the state censored content. According to the reports, hackers are targeting both, readers and the creators of the web content.
According to the findings of Jaime Blasco, a security researcher working in a Silicon Valley based security company, two of the most trusted Privacy tools over the Internet including VPNs and Tor have been circumvent by the hackers. Both work quite similarly and often dubbed as anonymity software, enabling users hide their true whereabouts and unblock the content that they otherwise can’t.
Millions of Chinese citizens and a large number of businesses there make use of these tools to often bypass the Great Firewall (China’s censorship technology), alongside in an attempt to make all of their web activities untraceable to the state snoopers.
Most of the websites compromised are either the ones being visited by China’s Muslim Uighur ethic minority or by the Chinese journalists, revealed by the security researcher, Blasco.
The hackers were able to access the private information of users who were logged into any of the 15 popular Internet portals of China including RenRen, Alibaba and Baidu. The compromised data includes users’ addresses, birth dates, phone numbers, email addresses, names and sex. On top of it, Internet cookies of frequent users were steal too.
The root cause of the attacks is a server software vulnerability, which is yet to be patched by top Chinese Internet firms, a very close source to Blasco reported SecurityGladiators.com. The vulnerability enabled hackers into successfully getting around the VPN technology and Tor.
Even though, neither Blasco nor any other individual or firm has been able to identify the hackers, the sophistication of attacks and list of the targets gesture that these attacks are backed by the Chinese government.
Blasco said in a statement, “Who else could be potentially interested in this information and go to such lengths? Who else would want to know who was visiting Uighur websites and reporters’ websites inside China?”.
Now from a decent period of time, security researchers and activists have been recommending Internet users in china to make use of VPNs and tor to enable them escape from the state sponsored surveillance, and folks whether foreigners of local citizens have been doing so for long. But this latest discovery pretty much clears the fact that these tools are not much effected now to deal with Beijing’s Internet censors.
Top/Featured Image: By Nate Grigg – Licensed under CC BY 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons