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Hacking For Fun and Profit in China's Underworld


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Chinese hacker

The austere bedroom of a Chinese hacker. Legions of hackers are pilfering information from individuals, corporations and government.

Credit: Jackson Lowen / The New York Times

With a few quick keystrokes, a computer hacker who goes by the code name Majia calls up a screen displaying his latest victims. "Here's a list of the people who've been infected with my Trojan horse," he says, working from a dingy apartment on the outskirts of this city in central China. "They don’t even know what's happened."

Majia, a soft-spoken college graduate in his early 20s, is a cyberthief. He operates secretly and illegally, as part of a community of hackers who exploit flaws in computer software to break into Web sites, steal valuable data and sell it for a profit.

Internet security experts say China has legions of hackers just like Majia. With 380 million Web users in China and a sizzling online gaming market, analysts say it is no wonder Chinese youths are so skilled at hacking. Many Chinese hackers interviewed over the last few weeks describe a loosely defined community of computer devotees working independently, but also selling services to corporations and even the military.

From The New York Times
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