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China's cyber security watchdog has reported an increase in the number of attacks on Chinese computers from overseas IP addresses.
Chinese computers were subject to a record number of cyber attacks from overseas last year, according to China's computer security monitor.
The National Computer Network Emergency Response Coordination Center of China (CNCERT/CC) recorded attacks against 8.9 million Chinese computers from 47,000 foreign IP addresses in 2011, the official Xinhua news agency reported.
That's almost 4 million more computers than were attacked in 2010, according to the center's figures.
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In addition, 10,593 Chinese websites were remotely accessed and controlled via 11,851 foreign IP addresses last year, ZDNet Asia reported. A total of 1,116 websites were vandalized.
"China has become the world's biggest victim of cyber attacks," Zhou Yonglin, a security official from the Internet Society of China, told Xinhua.
According to CNCERT, the majority of attacks were conducted via IP addresses in Japan, the United States and South Korea. Japanese addresses were the source of 22.8 percent of attacks, American addresses of 20.4 percent and South Korean addresses, 7.1 percent.
Some attacks were for financial gain, for example those targeting online banking sites, but others were attended to " access state networks and steal confidential information," Zhou Yonglin told the China Daily.
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Cyber attacks and the theft of user data have prompted calls for improved internet security, government news site China.org.cn reported. In the first half of 2011, some 217 million Chinese Internet users – almost half the total online population at the time – had been attacked by malware, and 121 million had had their account details stolen, according to its report.
China also has its own share of hackers, Zhou admitted, telling the China Daily that his society had received around 500 complaints from foreign networks about cyber attacks from Chinese IPs.
The Chinese government has also been accused of hacking into the systems of foreign government agencies and companies, the BBC pointed out, though Beijing denies doing so.