On Friday, China’s government announced new standards for the protection of personal information online. But an investigation by the Guangzhou Daily discovered that on the eve of the new standards’ release, stolen personal information was still easy and cheap to purchase online.
Moreover, the depth of the information available from some “investigation companies” was quite shocking, and points to serious security flaws in China’s telecom networks and in Tencent’s QQ chat software. On service advertised that for any car owner, it could provide a residential address, name, phone number, state ID number, and the car’s engine number for just 130 RMB ($20). Another company advertised that in addition to the usual personal details, it could even provide text message content records, phone records, and QQ chat records, as well as other bits of information as requested by clients.
The spread of smartphones (and smartphone trojans, which security firm Qihoo 360 says are now more prevalent than ever) has played a large role in the stolen personal information industry, as many people have huge amounts of personal information (including text, phone, and chat logs) all stored on their mobiles, which are then exposed fairly constantly to new networks and other security hazards.
So, if the New York Times hacking story from earlier this week wasn’t enough to convince you, here’s another reminder: keep your information secure, especially on your phone! If you don’t, anybody with $20 and a grudge could be able to buy their way into ruining your life.