A site under the moniker of Black Hawk Safety Net may sound reasonably innocent, but this morning three of its operators are waking up in a Chinese prison as authorities there shut down its operations. Far from being concerned with safety, BHSN is instead reported to be in the business of training hackers and providing them with malicious software, in fact it’s believed to be the biggest online training camp for potential hackers in China.
According to a BBC post this morning which referenced reports in the China Daily and the Wuhan Evening News, the hacker training operation openly recruited thousands of members online and provided them with cyber attack lessons and Trojan software. BHSN was said to have recruited more than 12,000 paying subscribers and collected more than 7 million yuan (€730,000) in membership fees, while another 170,000 people had signed up for free membership.
China has some 350 million internet users – more than any other country – and provides a lucrative search-engine market worth an estimated $1bn last year. Of course their travails with Google have been well documented at this stage though according to official figures Google holds only about a third of the country’s search market, with Chinese rival Baidu having more than 60%.
The BBC notes, “Government officials have defended China’s online censorship and said the country is the biggest victim of web attacks.”