A hacker has claimed to have collected the personal information of one billion Chinese citizens from the Shanghai police, which technology experts say, if true, would be the biggest data breach in history.
An anonymous internet user, identified as “Chinaadan”, last week posted on the hacker forum Breach Forum an offer to sell more than 23 terabytes (TB) of data for 10 bitcoins, the equivalent of about $ 200,000.
“In 2022, the Shanghai National Police (SHGA) database was leaked. This database contains information and data on billions of Chinese citizens.”
“The database contains information on 1 billion Chinese citizens and a few billion case records, including: name, address, place of birth, national identity card number, mobile number, details of all crimes / cases.”
Reuters could not verify the authenticity of the post.
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The Shanghai government and police department did not respond to requests for comment Monday.
Reuters didn’t even reach the self-proclaimed hacker, Chinadan, but the post was widely discussed on China’s Weibo and WeChat social media platforms over the weekend and many users were worried it might be real.
The hashtag “Data Leak” was blocked on Weibo on Sunday afternoon.
“It’s hard to analyze the truth from a rumor mill,” Schaefer, a Beijing-based consultant and head of technology policy research at Trivia China, said in a post on Twitter.
If the hacker claims the material came from the Ministry of Public Security, it would be bad for “many reasons”, Schaefer said.
“Obviously this would be the biggest and worst violation in history,” he said.
Binance CEO Zhao Changpeng said Monday that the exchange’s threat intelligence has stepped up cryptocurrency exchange user verification processes after identifying the record sales of 1 billion inhabitants of an Asian country on the Dark Web.
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He said on Twitter that a leak could be caused by “a bug in an elastic search installation by a (government) agency”, without saying whether he was referring to the Shanghai police case. He did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
A hack claim comes as China promises to improve the protection of online user data privacy, instructing its technology giants to ensure secure storage following public complaints about mismanagement and misuse.
Last year, China passed new laws regulating how personal information and data generated within its borders should be handled.