Industry chain behind hacker attacks on government websites

08:31, March 31, 2011      

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Two young men, Fan Dongdong and Wen Chao, who have only a junior high school education, received 18- and 12-month sentences for hacking into the website of the country's Supreme People's Procuratorate - the top agency for legal supervision - and more than a dozen other government websites.

Xin Zuguo, a judge with the People's Court of Chaoyang District in Beijing, said this was not an isolated case. From May 10 to 16 of last year, 81 government websites on the mainland were hacked and altered, including four ministry-level websites, according to the National Computer Network Emergency Response Technical Team/Coordination Center of China (CNCERT/CC).

The rampant hacking against government websites is aimed at making illegal profits, and an "industry chain" already exists, Xinhua reported.

The hackers can make money by putting illegal links on the government websites.

Fan Dongdong of Urumqi, Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region, and Wen Chao of Jiangyou, Sichuan province, both 20, also hacked the websites of the Quality and Technical Supervision in Changsha city, Quality Supervision in Qinghai province, e-Governance of Fushun city, Archives of Gaoming District in Foshan city, and Standing Committee of National People's Congress in Chuxiong Prefecture in Yunnan, from March to May 2010. They modified the website source code and planted links to boost the search engine ranking for some websites.

Fan and Wen, who never studied computer programming, learned that they could make money by putting links on the infected government websites through online chats. Then they learned basic programming skills from video courses and bought passwords to log into the hacked government websites through A5 and other forums.

"We didn't know how to get the passwords and the link codes, so we bought them. One password costs 10 yuan ($1.50) and one link code costs 4 to 7 yuan," Fan said. Fan used the passwords to log in to the websites and add links for customers.

Wen Chao was accused of posting online threads to lure potential "customers" with marked prices ranging from 4 yuan (50 cents) to 7 yuan ($1) for each illegal link. For his part, Fan put key words such as "Legend Service," "Car Trading," or "Study in the US" in the links that were secretly added to the website codes on those sites. The customers could trac