China to increase protections against hacking for key industries

By Thomson Reuters Feb 26, 2024 | 1:18 AM

BEIJING (Reuters) – China’s ministry of industry and information technology (MIIT) unveiled a plan on Monday that aims to improve data security in China’s industrial sector and effectively contain “major risks” by the end of 2026.

The plan comes at a time when China and the United States both frequently accuse each other of cyberattacks and industrial espionage.

Reuters reported last year that Chinese government entities and state-owned enterprises were accelerating efforts to replace Western-made hardware and software with domestic alternatives, partly due to fears of hacking from foreign adversaries.

“In response to frequent risk scenarios such as ransomware attacks, vulnerability backdoors, illegal operations by personnel, and uncontrolled remote operation and maintenance, we will strengthen risk self-examination and self-correction, and adopt precise management and protective measures,” according to the plan, published on MIIT’s website.

Protective measures, including emergency drills simulating ransomware attacks, must be applied to over 45,000 companies in China’s industrial sector by 2026 year-end, covering at least the top 10% in terms of revenue in every Chinese province.

The plan also aims to complete 30,000 data security training sessions and cultivate 5,000 data security “talents” within the same timeframe.

China has in the past three years tightened regulation over how its companies store and transfer user data, citing national security concerns. Regulators fined Chinese ride-hailing giant Didi $1.2 billion in July 2022 over data-security breaches.

The Ministry of State Security warned in December that foreign geographic information software was being used to collect sensitive data in key sectors including its military.

In the same month, MIIT proposed a four-tier classification system to help it respond to data security incidents.

(Reporting by Eduardo Baptista; Editing by Michael Perry)