If you have had advertising accounts automatically friend you on microblogging platform Sina Weibo, or have been added to a chat group on instant messaging app QQ without your consent, it is possible that your personal information has been leaked.
Recently, police in Shaoxing City in east China's Zhejiang Province solved a case involving the theft of 3 billion pieces of personal information. The police found that a listed new media company in Beijing signed contracts with telecom operators in over 10 provinces to illegally gain user data from the operators' servers. As a result, over 90 Internet companies, including Baidu and Alibaba, had their user data illicitly obtained by the company in question.
In this case, personal information was leaked not through a single website or app but by telecom operators. This means that when Internet users log into their computers or mobile phones, their personal information may be intercepted.
Telecom operators possess a large amount of user information, such as search and transaction records as well as passwords. They should try their best to protect these assets, but in reality they often fail to do so.
Telecom operators are the providers of key information technology infrastructure. Compared with providers of Internet services, they are the foundation of the Internet and gatekeepers of information safety. Whether they can fulfill their function of guaranteeing Internet safety concerns national security, social order and public interests.
However, currently China's core information infrastructure still faces huge security risks and telecom operators' ability to prevent risk is far from enought to confront national and organized cyberattacks. Therefore, telecom operators should strengthen self-discipline to at least avoid cooperating with private companies to steal user information.
(This is an edited excerpt of an article originally published in Nanfang Daily on August 22)