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A hacker claimed he stole the records of one billion Chinese residents from Shanghai police in what could be considered the largest data breach in the country’s history.
A post on hacker hacking forums listed information “on one billion domestic Chinese residents and several billion cases” for sale for the tune of 10 Bitcoins, or about $ 200,000.
The poster, using the name ChinaDan, claimed on Sunday that the collection of information included “name, address, place of birth, national identification number, mobile number, all the details of the crime / case.”
The post remains unverified, but has sparked immense interest in China and abroad: users of the Chinese Weibo and WeChat platforms have expressed great concern and anguish over the truth of the claim.
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Reuters reported that Weibo blocked the #dataleak trend all Sunday.
Posters on Breach Forums analyzed a sample of the data and discussed its authenticity, largely due to the price involved for such valuable information.
A poster called 10 Bitcoins “too cheap” for government information, especially because “you risk being hunted and killed” for it, Asia Markets reported.
The forum administrators closed the thread on Sunday evening, with an offer of 6 Bitcoins on the table at that time.
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Kendra Schaefer, a partner at consulting firm Trivium China, said the breach would be “bad, for a variety of reasons” if proven genuine.
“Obviously, this would be one of the biggest and worst violations in history,” Schaefer wrote on Twitter. “Two, China’s personal information protection law just came out late last year. It requires government bodies to protect citizens’ information, which if the source is indeed MPS, MPS has failed to do so.”
Schaefer shared that the records “would also contain details on child files,” making the violation also a violation of the Child Protection Act.
“I would be surprised if they didn’t also contain files on celebrities and minor officials,” he wrote.
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One reason the breach may have contained so much information is that Shanghai police would have had access to a national data-sharing system, providing access to more information than a regional police authority.