Three men have been arrested, and what is thought to be a training site for hackers closed down, as Chinese officials get tough in the wake of the Google Gmail human rights hacking scandal.
While China has something of a history of being tough on political activists, online multi-player gaming and not forgetting the big pornography crackdown it has, until now, shown little appetite for a Chinese hacker takeaway.
Yet the Black Hawk Safety Net website, the largest hacking site in China according to officials from the Hubei province, has been shut down according to Chinese state sources as the authorities start putting new laws banning the both the design and distribution of hacking tools into motion. Local newspapers such as the China Daily and the Wuhan Evening News, as well as the official paper of the Communist Party, the People's Daily, the official paper of the Communist Party, report that members of Black Hawk Safety Net were committing online crime using just such tools.
It is common knowledge within the IT security world that several sites in China play a pivotal role in offering hacker training tools including 'how to' videos, and are thought to make a pretty tidy profit as a result. In the case of Black Hawk Safety Net assets worth 1.7m yuan, web servers, assorted computers and a car were seized during the raid.
The timing of the announcement is interesting, coming as it does within a few weeks of Google claiming that hackers in China were behind the attempts to steal data human rights activists using the Gmail service within the country. Interesting because you might think that this was a carefully orchestrated move to allay fears in the West that China is, if not actively encouraging, condoning through a lack of action such attacks. Interesting, because those reporting on the story in China reckon that the raid leading to the arrests and closure happened in November, before the Google hacking story broke around the world. Interesting because it is odd to only report it so triumphantly now, unless it is being done as some kind of retrospective post Google-hack damage control after all.