A hacker claims to have stolen the records of 1 billion Chinese citizens in what tech experts say, if true, would be one of the biggest data breaches in history.
The anonymous internet user, identified as “ChinaDan,” posted on the hacker forum Breach Forums that they had got their hands on the personal information on 1 billion Chinese citizens from Shanghai police records.
They were offering to sell the more than 23 terabytes of data for 10 bitcoin, equivalent to about $200,000.
The Shanghai government and police department did not respond to requests for comment on Monday.
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Kendra Schaefer, head of tech policy research at Beijing-based consultancy Trivium China, said in a post on Twitter it was “hard to parse truth from rumour mill.”
If the material the hacker claimed to have came from the Ministry of Public Security, it would be bad for “a number of reasons,” Schaefer said.
“Most obviously it would be among biggest and worst breaches in history,” she added.
Changpeng Zhao, CEO of Binance, said on Monday the cryptocurrency exchange had stepped up user verification processes after the exchange’s threat intelligence detected the sale of records belonging to 1 billion residents of an Asian country on the dark web.
He said on Twitter that a leak could have happened due to “a bug in an Elastic Search deployment by a [government] agency,” without saying if he was referring to the Shanghai police case.
The claim of a hack comes as China has vowed to improve protection of online user data privacy, instructing its tech giants to ensure safer storage after public complaints about mismanagement and misuse.
Last year, China passed new laws governing how personal information and data generated within its borders should be handled.
- Reuters with additional editing by Sean O’Meara