China tightens control over cybersecurity in data crackdown

BEIJING — Tech experts in China who find a weakness in computer security would be required to tell the government. It couldn’t sell that knowledge under rules, further tightening the Communist Party’s control over information. The rules would ban private-sector experts who find “zero-day” or previously unknown security weaknesses and sell the information to police, spy agencies, or companies. Such vulnerabilities have been a feature of major hacking attacks, including one this month blamed on a Russian-linked group that infected thousands of companies in at least 17 countries.

No one may “collect, sell or publish information on network product security vulnerabilities,” said the rules issued by the Cyberspace Administration of China and the police and industry ministries. They take effect on Sept. 1.

The ruling party’s military wing, the People’s Liberation Army, is a leader in the United States and Russia in cyber warfare technology. PLA officers have been charged by U.S. prosecutors with American hacking companies to steal technology and trade secrets.

Consultants who find “zero-day” weaknesses claim their work is legitimate because they serve police or intelligence agencies. Some have been accused of aiding governments accused of human rights abuses or groups that spy on activists.

There is no indication such private-sector researchers work in China, but the decision to ban the field suggests Beijing sees it as a potential threat.

China has steadily tightened control over information and computer security over the past two decades.

Banks and other entities that are deemed sensitive are required to use only Chinese-made security products wherever possible. Foreign vendors that sell routers and other network products in China must disclose to regulators how any encryption features work.

Katie Axon

Katie Axon is a 25-year-old junior programmer who enjoys listening to music, podcasting and theatre. She is kind and giving, but can also be very rude and a bit greedy.She is an Australian Christian. She has a degree in computing. She is obsessed with bottled water.

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