Viruses Threaten Chinese Usage, Security

The majority of Chinese computers are infected by viruses, according to a survey conducted by the public information network security supervision bureau of the Ministry of Public Security. These security breaches could have some disastrous consequences as the survey indicated that computer viruses are still the main threat to China’s information network security.

The Ministry of Public Security survey revealed that 85 percent of computers in China were affected by viruses in 2003 – 1.59 percentage points higher than in 2002 and 25.57 percentage points higher than measurements in 2001. Virus infections in 2003 caused losses to some 63 percent of users of computers involved in the survey, a slight drop compared with the figure a year ago. Industry experts believe that as many as 30 percent of the country’s computers fell victim to the Sobig.F worm when it attacked Internet systems worldwide in August 2003.

Roughly 68 million Chinese citizens regularly access the Web, and the survey identified downloading, Web sites, and email attachments as the main channels of infection. Furthermore, lack of prevention awareness and lowered capability to prevent infection by viruses are the reasons behind the high virus infection rate of computers in China.

China’s online population comprised only 15,000 in 1995, and growth has been so explosive that the country now falls second to the U.S. for Internet usage. According to the Trade Development’s Information Technology Industries (ITI) offices within the U.S. Department of Commerce, the country hopes to nearly triple the number of Internet subscribers by 2005, bringing the online population to 200 million. ITI also found that China is one of the world’s fastest growing IT markets and has surpassed Australia to become the Asia-Pacific region’s second largest IT market after Japan. China’s market for IT services is expected to reach $4.7 billion in 2003 – representing an increase of nearly 25 percent over the previous year – and $11.7 billion is forecasted by 2007.

A June 2003 study of Chinese Internet users, conducted by the China Internet Network Information Center (CNNIC), revealed that most of the country’s Web surfers were male (60.1 percent) and unmarried (59.7 percent). Most of those that accessed the Internet were hoping to get information (46.9 percent) or to get entertained (28.6 percent). Nearly all (91.8 percent) were regular users of email, using free personal email accounts (78.8 percent).

Chinese Internet Access (millions)
Dial-up 45.01
Leased lines 23.42
Broadband 9.80
ISDN 4.90
Note: Multiple access methods are counted;
leased lines refer to LAN
Source: CNNIC

Ages of Chinese Internet Users
Under 18 17.1%
18-24 39.1%
25-30 17.2%
31-35 10.3%
36-40 7.4%
41-50 6.0%
51-60 2.1%
Above 60 0.8%
Source: CNNIC

Education Level of Chinese
Internet Users
Under high school 13.9%
High School 30.9%
Junior college 27.1%
Bachelor degree 25.5%
Master degree 2.1%
Doctorate degree 0.5%
Source: CNNIC

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