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  • Philip Osadebay - Tech Journalist

Chinese authorities have questioned Alibaba executives over data breach

The Chinese authorities have supposedly brought in Alibaba cloud executives for discussions regarding the police database data breach, which started in July. They reported that an anonymous site attacker stole the data of over a billion citizens from a central police database, which is regarded as one of the most significant breaches ever recorded.



Currently, an investigation is being carried out by Alibaba to evaluate how a data breach that involved billions of people happened. As one of the most significant breaches ever done in history, the collected data were stolen from a database of the Shanghai police and were publicised online for sale for $200,000 by June.


It’s been reported by cyber security researchers that the dashboard which has been operating the Police Database has been open for over a year without any password or security authentication system in place. Further research into the issues makes it evident that Alibaba put on the database Alibaba’s cloud platform, which the company employees confirmed.


The unknown attackers also announced selling the data with a copy of the information on their cybercrime forum. When Alibaba discovered this act, top Alibaba managers came together to present an emergency response on 1st July.


The top executives called for meetings, including the Shanghai authorities and Alibaba cloud Vice President Chen Xuesong. Alibaba’s Cloud Vice President was newly appointed to oversee the cloud’s unit digital public security business.


Since the discovery of the data breach, Alibaba engineers have, for the time being, disabled any access to the database and commenced inspection of related code. Although, the motive behind the data breach hasn’t been discovered as of now. Alibaba cloud assigned staff to go through key details like the architecture database and contracts with key clients. More emphasis was placed on people connected with dedicated private cloud resources, including financial institutions and government agencies.


Since the breach occurred, Alibaba Cloud has ordered staff to review details like the database architecture and configurations in contracts with key clients, emphasising those with dedicated private cloud resources, including government agencies and financial institutions.


The data stolen has been out in storage on Alibaba’s cloud technology, outdated some years ago and lacking some rudimentary security features. This was said by LeakIX and Security Discovery cyber security companies.


The stolen data are assumed to contain some personal information of Chinese citizens. It includes their names, phone numbers, government ID numbers, and archives of offences reported to the police.


In addition to the data breach, 13 other Alibaba databases which shared the same outdated version of database and database products were discovered by Security Discovery and LeakIX. All of them were established with a database on a private server and dashboards on the public internet. All 13 Alibaba databases used the same expired certificate, and all were left open for over a year. Alibaba also discovered another database with over 60 terabytes of data; another had 92 terabytes. But more than 23 terabytes of data were stolen from the Shanghai Police.


We all know it's not the first time a Chinese tech giant has had a security inspection over its data-security practices. As of December 2021, The Minister of technology for china suspended Alibaba's cyber security partnership with the Minister of technology for China for over six months. The government confirmed the company took a while to report its global software vulnerability.

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