Wanted: Good guys who can hack like Internet criminals

Wanted: Good guys who can hack like Internet criminals
PHOTO: NP

China needs to build a world-class "white-hat hacker" team to protect Internet security, according to Zhou Hongyi, chief executive of Qihoo 360 Technology Co.

Zhou made the assertion at a technology forum on Wednesday in Beijing.

"The rapidly expanding Internet industry badly needs protection by security experts who can attack like real hackers. Experienced white-hat hackers who can think out of the box are required," Zhou said.

White-hat hackers - the good guys, or ethical hackers - break Web security for nonmalicious reasons, usually to help companies or governments test their security vulnerabilities.

Zhou pledged to hold hacker competitions at Chinese universities in 2015 to find future talent for the industry.

China's slowly growing white-hat community isn't keeping up with the Internet explosion on the market. Experts say that because commercial security companies serve only paid enterprise customers, many security breaches are left unattended on the networks of key organisations such as government agencies, State-owned enterprises and sometimes the military.

Websites operated by government and financial institutions attract most of the attacks, according to the National Computer Network Emergency Response Technical Coordination Center, a nonprofit cybersecurity technical provider.

Up to 85 per cent of the backdoor attacks targeting servers and websites came from hackers outside China, according to the organisation.

A weak talent reserve in the cybersecurity sector will hurt China's information safety in the long run, warned Yun Xiaochun, chief engineer at the coordination centre.

"The talent supply is far weaker than demand in the industry. Most of the top-tier security personnel were recruited by overseas companies, leaving the domestic market even more talent-hungry," Yun said. Some security experts ended up in the underground hacking business to make more money, he added.

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