Chinese police have pledged to continue to intensify their efforts on cybersecurity, as hacking into computer systems has become a major engine for criminal activities.
Statistics released by the Ministry of Public Security on Thursday showed that cybercrime has risen over the past three years at an annual average rate of 27.7 percent.
Since the start of last year, police officers across the country have solved 2,430 criminal cases involving hackers, with the capture of more than 7,000 suspects.
Highlighting the need for improving cybersecurity, Shi You, an official from the ministry, said it has stepped up efforts targeting hacking.
"While directly infiltrating and sabotaging computer information systems, criminals have also been discovered to have provided technical support and material information for other illegal activities such as telecom fraud, online gambling and online pornography," he said.
The secondary crimes caused by hacking not only disrupt social stability and bring economic losses for people, but they also disturb market order and harm state security, he added.
In one case, for example, Beijing police detained 16 suspects involved in the fraudulent purchase and resale of tickets to scenic tourist spots in August after receiving reports from the public complaining of difficulties in booking the tickets.
The suspects were found to have illegally used software to purchase the tickets and then resell them at a higher price, the ministry said, adding that the illicit gains of the gangs were more than 2.3 million yuan ($315,000).
The capital's police also seized 25 mobile phones, 21 computers and 26 software programs used to illegally access the tickets when they arrested the suspects, it said.
In another case, police officers in Foshan, Guangdong province, uncovered a group of 31 people in February who had allegedly obtained profits by tampering with an app's system data.
Shi, from the ministry, stressed the focus on technology, "as the methods used by hackers have diversified with the rapid development of technologies, including artificial intelligence and blockchain".
He expressed his concern about the thousands of hacker tools circulating online, saying "most of the tools come with detailed tutorials and user-friendly interfaces, allowing people to carry out criminal activities such as vulnerability scanning and Trojan implantation without needing to have a high level of technical expertise".
He added that the average age of hackers has been decreasing each year, revealing that there have been cases of elementary school students being proficient in using hacking tools.
Huang Xiaosu, another bureau official who specializes in technology, said that hacking victims frequently have security loopholes in their computer systems or have failed to install security software.
"Some victims had little security awareness, as they used simple passwords that were easy for hackers to attack," she added.
Chinese police have increased security supervision and helped remove security loopholes, especially those in key information infrastructure areas, she said, calling for individuals and departments to enhance awareness of data security and upgrade their network systems in a timely manner.