If China's Great Firewall Is So Effective, Why Can't It Stop All The Malware Hosted There?

from the questions,-questions,-questions dept

We all know about the "Great Firewall" of China that's designed both to keep certain website inaccessible from China, but which is also supposed to block certain content in China from reaching the outside world. While there already are some questions about how effective the Great Firewall really is, it does seem odd that the majority of "badware" sites are all hosted in China. Is it that China just doesn't care or is it that the Great Firewall isn't actually that effective? Perhaps the answer is somewhere in between. The Great Firewall definitely has some holes, and if the purpose of it is more focused on political speech than malware, perhaps it shouldn't be surprising that the powers that be ignore the malware and let it go through. Or, of course, you could take the conspiratorial viewpoint, and say perhaps China blocks malware within the country, but doesn't care if others get it. Given the various rumors and reports lately about Chinese hackers breaking into computers in other countries, that last possibility may not be so far-fetched.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
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    Chris, Jun 25th, 2008 @ 8:02pm

    "Or, of course, you could take the conspiratorial viewpoint, and say perhaps China blocks malware within the country, but doesn't care if others get it."

    Look at all the spam and malware out of Russia that's allowed to take place at the expense of Americans, and the picture looks less conspiratorial.

     

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  2.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 25th, 2008 @ 8:32pm

    No.

    So now you're just putting out random speculations on topics that you know nothing about.

    "China blocks malware within the country, but doesn't care if others get it."

    Then you should come and live in China for a while to experience the "malware-free-ness" for yourself.

    Really, based on personal experience, I'd say the malware problem is more rampant within China than without. I have lived in North America for the past 11 years. I'd estimate approximately half of the computers I have come in contact with run malware-free without the help of any kind of 3rd party anti-malware software. Though for the past weeks I have been in China, and nearly all computers I have accessed have some kind of anti-virus software installed yet are still plagued by malware.

    Many of the west's view of China is skewed by a similar lack of personal experience. Of course, the Chinese culture, being more conservative compared to the west, does play a role in this skewed view by closing itself off from the outside. However, this does not mean that the west should just speculate on what is happening inside China based on a few incomplete stories and a biased mindset.

     

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  3.  
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    puhleeze, Jun 25th, 2008 @ 8:53pm

    Mike Masnick trolling

    Uh oh another anonymous coward trolling mike! I swear this is the same guy/guys trolling every article and whatever viewpoint techdirt takes, they will troll in the comments.
    makes me sick. As far as his computer being infected with malware, he has never been to China I would bet money on, and the malware? Guess his computer has lamer protection.
    Mike can't we get a troll-ban on these screwballs. Sick of this same person simply trolling and taking the opposite opinion of every piece they read in this blog, ugh, go back home to mommy and daddy losers! Leave the tech talk for the folks who know wtf they are talking about.

     

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  4.  
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    David, Jun 25th, 2008 @ 8:53pm

    Makes perfect sense

    If the purpose of maleware and spyware is to obtain information on the innocent computer user, than it makes perfect sense that a totalitarian regime will actually propagate software that spies on its own people! Therefore, makes perfect sense that the chines great fire wall blocks political speech yet allows malware/spyware to roam free. Which situation would make you feel more free and less restricted... computers clear of spywre or a computer that's probably infected and very likely transmitting every keystroke to some unknown big brother?

     

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  5.  
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    AC from #2, Jun 25th, 2008 @ 9:31pm

    @ #3

    So whenever someone takes an opposite view as the blogger, that someone gets bashed by regular readers without valid counter points. Very nice.

    Get Mike or whoever to check my IP. I am in China at this very moment. It would also show that I am not this AC posting on other articles.

    If you insist my points are invalid, then so be it. Keep living in your own ignorance, as one day you'll drown.

     

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  6.  
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    PC Man, Jun 25th, 2008 @ 10:50pm

    AC's, AC's everywhere...

    Anonymous Coward,

    You are known by the company you keep. If you insist on using the same moniker as others who post anti-blogger messages and use their same M/O, then you can't be indignant about people transferring their disgust of the others onto you as well. You brought it onto yourself.

    And as far as the fact that you ARE in China? Who cares? Over a BILLION people in China and you think the few that you have contact with are representative of the whole? And you think that "the past WEEKS" you have figured out all that their government is or is not doing? Wow. That just boggles the mind.

    The mindset shown in your last sentence reveal more about you than the whole rest of your post. Essentially, everyone needs to agree with your opinion or they are stupid. Close-mindedness never has won many friends and is usually a cover for an inferiority complex.

    Overall, it doesn't matter. The last word of your alias says it all.

     

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  7.  
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    Alejandro Michetti, Jun 25th, 2008 @ 11:27pm

    experience

    I can only agree with the poor boy who signed as AC. If you attach your laptop to the Internet in any Shanghai office, you will get tons of malware after a few minutes. No matter how good you are prepared against that. First hand experience.
    But you can see it by yourself, only if you are there. People who never travelled to China, simply don't know this, and it seems they don't really want to hear from others with more experience. Really sad.

     

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  8.  
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    Agonizing Fury, Jun 25th, 2008 @ 11:51pm

    Funny people

    I think it's funny how when mike points out one viewpoint (and doesn't even claim it as his own, just "the conspiratorial viewpoint") so many people jump on him and assume it's his viewpoint.

     

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  9.  
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    Allen (profile), Jun 26th, 2008 @ 12:28am

    Maybe because that's the way they designed it?

    The purpose of the firewall is to stop people inside China from accessing "unapproved" content outside China.

    I doubt that stopping maleware escaping China wasn't in the requirement spec.

     

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  10.  
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    Tom - Daai Tou Laam, Jun 26th, 2008 @ 1:15am

    and the flipside, Allen...

    Stopping communications from infected computers to machines in China also isn't in the requirement spec.

    Go check out The Dark Visitor who tries to keep tabs on the hacker BBSs in China. Like this post had me cracking up:
    http://www.thedarkvisitor.com/2008/06/vampires-chinese-hackers-treachery-and-smoking-hacker-bab elets-face-it-this-post-has-it-all/

    And the most convincing proof that Chinese malware is worse here is that a lot of the stuff that I've had to remove from laptops here doesn't get detected by the mainstream US based anti-virus programs.

     

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  11.  
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    John Duncan Yoyo, Jun 26th, 2008 @ 2:11am

    Funny thing is the Diane Rehm show yesterday had an hour on Cyber Threats .

    The one warning for people going to China was not to bring a laptop or a mobile phone with you and if you did bring one expect the Chinese Government to put spyware or some sort of hardware snooping on it at the border. One of the experts said they only send machines that they could break down, fully inspect and reinstall when they couldn't just use a binder full of paper.

    Diane is usually hopeless on this sort of topic but it was interesting none the less.

     

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  12.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 26th, 2008 @ 2:26am

    Who really cares?

     

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  13.  
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    AC from #2, Jun 26th, 2008 @ 2:31am

    @PC Man's #6

    "You are known by the company you keep. If you insist on using the same moniker as others who post anti-blogger messages and use their same M/O, then you can't be indignant about people transferring their disgust of the others onto you as well. You brought it onto yourself."

    How am I supposed to know about the messages other people have used to counter Mike's views? Is a reader of this blog supposed to read through all replies to all past articles in order to understand the position of the majority of its readers and conform to it? I merely stated my experience, yet I get accused of trolling? There is seriously something wrong here.

    Also, when many people use the same messages to debunk a single view, that view should be reconsidered rather than bashing the message. It's no coincidence that so many people are putting out the same message on Mike's blog.

    "And as far as the fact that you ARE in China? Who cares? Over a BILLION people in China and you think the few that you have contact with are representative of the whole? And you think that "the past WEEKS" you have figured out all that their government is or is not doing? Wow. That just boggles the mind."

    Have I claimed I know what the Chinese government is and isn't doing? I simply stated my experience that the firewall does NOT filter malware, or at least very poorly, within China. Read what I write, not what you want to think I wrote.

    And yes, over a billion people are in China. So what? There is no way I can get on every single computer to check if it's malware-infected or not. The fact that the sample of 20 or so computers were nearly all affected by malware to some degree suggests that the "Great Firewall" does not filter out malware within China.

    "Essentially, everyone needs to agree with your opinion or they are stupid. Close-mindedness never has won many friends and is usually a cover for an inferiority complex."

    The same would apply to your message. By the responses here, one would think that this Mike has created some sort of religion, where all opposing views are punished rather than reviewed.

    Also, think clearly before you use the word "close-minded" to describe others, as it is you who cannot accept that Mike's proposed conspiratorial viewpoint is baseless and in fact most likely wrong.

     

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  14.  
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    Enrico Suarve, Jun 26th, 2008 @ 6:57am

    Re: @PC Man's #6

    I wouldn't waste your time - the fact that PC Man claims to be defending bloggers, and hasn't noticed yet that AC is basically almost a standard pseudonym given to people who didn't enter a name themselves, says something about either his level of intelligence, experience, or both

    Whereas he obviously entered his real name (odd parents but never mind)

    I have the same experience of PCs across Asia - I work in a large multinational and focus on IT security, we routinely discover new malware on Chinese PCs, since a lot of this seems focussed on making sure the rest of the world receives its daily penis enlargement emails and other scams I somehow doubt its a Chinese Government conspiracy

    I would say that although a minority of our machines are in China a majority of our new malware comes from machines there

    I have almost the same experience (but to a slightly lesser extent) in India. This may be because they are close to China in our WAN cloud but may also be just an indication that the issue is more to do with what hackers and others can get away with, in countries with overly complex bureaucracies, who perhaps don't have as stringent laws in place as other countries?

    So yeah there’s a lot of malware comes from China but my impression is there’s even more in-country, all the quips about faceless Chinese officials planting malware etc on visitors machines are priceless however. My company is American and just last week issued guidelines to company travellers on how to protect themselves against unwarranted data theft by US customs officials...

     

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  15.  
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    Mao, Jun 26th, 2008 @ 6:16pm

    Don't Be Fooled, Malware is Business

    Communist Red China, doesn't concern itself with the people's needs, it's always about what is best for the CCP!

    Malware actually supports economic gain, as then you got to buy antivirus, firewalls and the sort, in addition to upgrading all the time.

    It's business...

    Look at Microsoft, they sell you a crippled operating system and then sell you for that crippled system their own OneCare solution....

     

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  16.  
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    Entropy (profile), Jun 26th, 2008 @ 7:11pm

    Most firewalls work that way

    They keep things from getting in, but don't do much at all about things getting out. Software firewalls for PC, anyway.

    Yep. China needs to get their act to together.

     

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  17.  
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    Sailor Ripley, Jul 2nd, 2008 @ 7:45am

    Re: No.

    ...west's view of China is skewed...

    first, my personal views about China are mainly skewed by my contact with a Chinese student who was good friends with the student leader who spearheaded the demonstrations and protests that resulted (among other things) in the infamous Tiananmen square incident. Also by China's attitude towards freedom of speech (and other in the west broadly accepted principles like that) and their treatment of Tibet.

     

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  18.  
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    Sailor Ripley, Jul 2nd, 2008 @ 7:57am

    Re: Re: @PC Man's #6

    I'm not getting involved in the who's right part of this, but:

    ...the fact that PC Man claims to be defending bloggers...

    I guess your reading between the lines skills must be better than mine because I don't see such a claim in his post

    oh, wait, I get it now, it's one of those straw thingies man uses in a pathetic attempt to win an un-winnable argument...

    In light of PC Man's title (AC's, AC's everywhere) and first paragraph (...If you insist on using the same moniker as others who post anti-blogger messages and use their same M/O, then you can't be indignant about people transferring their disgust of the others onto you as well)...
    guess what we conclude from your "
    ...and hasn't noticed yet that AC is basically almost a standard pseudonym given to people who didn't enter a name themselves, says something about either his level of intelligence, experience, or both." about your intelligence...

     

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  19.  
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    Marcia, Jan 20th, 2010 @ 9:02am

    The majority of badware sites are hosted in China, and the majority of malware is authored in the Ukraine. Of those, the vast majority are aimed at the US. A little triangle of internet misery spreading, that.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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