Sunday, February 9, 2014

A brief history of Chinese hacking: Part II

(The following draws extensively from an online text titled "The Record of X on the Rise of the Chinese Hacker", supplemented from other sources.)

I ended the last post with the emergence of the Chinese hacktivist alliance in response to violence against ethnic Chinese in Indonesia in 1998. This era also saw the emergence of the Green Corps and the Chinese Green League. (I'm not sure what the significance of the color "green" is in these names, but I wonder if it doesn't relate to the color of CRT screens).

Webpages discussing the technical details of hacking began to proliferate, and Chinese hackers eagerly undertook to study the relevant technologies. The most famous hacker of this period may have been Xiǎo Róng (小榕), creator of tools like Stream of Light (流光, a vulnerability scanner), Tracing Snow (溯雪, a password cracker) and Chaos Knife (乱刀).

1999 saw a dramatic increase in the number of internet users in China, and it also saw the NATO bombing of the Chinese embassy in Belgrade, which many Chinese saw as a deliberate act of retribution on the part of the United States for China's criticism of NATO action in Yugoslavia.

The second day after the bombing of the Chinese embassy in Belgrade, the first Red Hacker website was born, initially called the Chinese Hacker's Rallying Point for the Motherland (中国红客之祖国团结阵线), and later renamed the Chinese Hacker's United Front for the Motherland (中国红客之祖国统一战线).

This site drew intense interest from Chinese citizens around the world, and the Red Hackers carried out widespread attacks on American websites and email servers.

Hacking tools created in this period included NetSpy (inspired by Cult of the Dead Cow's Back Orifice), Glacier (冰河, a trojan horse), Black Hole (黑洞), Network Thief (网络神偷), Gray Dove (灰鸽子), XSan and YAI.

Glacier, Black Hole and Network Thief are still considered by many to be essential tools for the Chinese hacker. "Official" development of Glacier has ceased, but users have forked off many versions of their own.

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