China summons cloud giants in fraud crackdown

24 November 2021 | Melanie Mingas

Cover

The cloud units of Alibaba and Baidu have been summoned by authorities in China to discuss fraud and cybersecurity.

The Chinese government's Ministry of Industry and Information Technology said the Cyber Security Administration led the discussions on preventing telecom network fraud. The developments, reported by Reuters, followed security incidents on both firms' cloud platforms.

The ministry published details of the meeting via its WeChat and Weibo accounts – Weibo itself suffered a data breach in 2020 and was also instructed to improve its data security by the ministry.

A statement from the ministry, translated via Google, read: "The high number of fraud-related websites requires the two companies to earnestly fulfil their main responsibilities for network and information security; strictly implement the Network Security Law and other legal and regulatory requirements; and rectify related issues within a time limit.

"Refusal to rectify… will be severely punished in accordance with laws and regulations. The two companies stated that they will conscientiously implement the regulatory requirements, further strengthen the management of website access, domain name registration, and information services, and effectively prevent and resolve the risks of telecommunications network fraud."

The named parties have not released statements or any further insight on the meeting, and they have not responded to requests for comment.

Baidu has been the target of several high-profile hacks, including the 2017 attempt to hack its driverless car technology and the 2010 incident that saw Baidu's DNS records changed by a group called the Iranian Cyber Army.

As recently as June, Alibaba suffered a data breach that saw more than one billion customers affected. Back in 2019, Alibaba founder Jack Ma said the group deals with "300 million hack attempts per day".

China doubled down on its approach to tackling fraud in April of this year, when president Xi Jinping said the country would crack down on telecom and internet fraud. It is also introducing new regulations for its tech giants and is building its own state-backed cloud system.