1 billion Chinese citizens' data stolen after a police database was left open without a password for a year, reports say
hackerclaims to have stolen 1 billion Chinese citizens' data, including names and addresses.
- The hacker wrote a ransom note asking for 10 bitcoin, or roughly $203,000, for the data.
A hacker claims to have stolen personal data—including phone numbers, government IDs, and names—from almost 1 billion Chinese citizens in one of the largest data leaks ever, according to several
The enormous data theft occurred because of a glaring error in a Shanghai police database, The Wall Street Journal and other outlets reported this week. A dashboard allowing anyone to access the data without requiring a password was exposed online for more than a year, up for anyone's taking.
The police database storing private citizens' information could be freely accessed online anytime between April 2021 and June this year—up until a hacker took the data and deleted the data en masse, according to The Wall Street Journal. Although the 23 terabyte mass of personal data should have been kept hidden, there was a backdoor web address that anyone could use to access the database, CNN reported, citing the leak detection group LeakIX.
All that remained on the database after the breach was a ransom note that appeared to say the thief would return the personal information for 10 bitcoin, which is worth around $203,000.
The hacker, whose identity is unknown and could be multiple people working as a group, posted the same ransom demand on the hacking forum Breach Forums late last month under the name "ChinaDan," according to The New York Times. The hacker's post shared samples of the stolen data to confirm it was genuine, according to The Times, and included data such as citizens' addresses, names, and sometimes other information like education or ethnicity. The hacker also posted samples of police case records and other details.
"Databases contain information on 1 Billion Chinese national residents and several billion case records, including: name, address, birthplace, national ID number, mobile number, all crime/case details," the hacker's forum post reportedly claimed, according to Reuters.
The cybersecurity researcher Vinny Troia told CNN that he discovered the police database online back in January, and said "any number of people could have downloaded the data" since it was operational since April last year.
Meanwhile, the Chinese government is reportedly censoring discussion of the data leak on social media. Hashtags including "data leak" and "1 billion citizens' records leak" have been blocked on the Chinese platform Weibo, according to Fortune, and a popular user on WeChat said their post was removed.
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