The Ministry of State Security has called for heightened vigilance against persistent and covert risks to data security, as well as the strengthening of the protection of crucial information infrastructure and early detection of data security risks.
In a statement issued on Wednesday, the ministry emphasized the close links between data security, national security and public interests. It also cautioned that foreign intelligence agencies are often detected as being behind cyberattacks targeting China.
The statement came after a recent investigation revealed that the backdoor malware used in a cyberattack targeted at the Wuhan Earthquake Monitoring Center possessed traits consistent with those used by foreign intelligence agencies.
The ministry noted that in recent years, it has become more evident that some overseas organizations attempted to gain access to China's important data. However, Chinese national security agencies have promptly responded to crack down on these illegal and criminal activities in accordance with the law, effectively safeguarding data security and preventing further damage.
Highlighting the importance of high-quality data resources in driving scientific and technological innovation, the ministry quoted data from the Cyberspace Administration of China, which said that China's data output reached 8.1 zettabytes in 2022, ranking second globally, with a storage capacity of 724.5 exabytes, accounting for 14.4 percent of global capacity.
China's digital economy reached 50.2 trillion yuan ($6.88 trillion), accounting for 41.5 percent of its GDP in 2022.
Such vast data contains huge productivity and business opportunities, and those who have mastered big data technology will have mastered the resources and initiative for development, said the ministry.
The statement cautioned that problems and risks, such as unclear ownership, unauthorized access and disorderly transactions, have emerged in data collection, storage, transmission and usage. Illicit activities such as data leaks, trafficking and misuse have increased, posing challenges to data security.
It highlighted that more persistent and covert data security risks have brought great challenges to data security.
China has been a prominent victim of cyberattacks, with hackers and criminal groups frequently targeting its critical information infrastructure and key industries. The statement underlined that such intrusions endanger not only personal privacy and trade secrets, but also vital national data security.
According to a report by China Internet Network Information Center, as of December 2022, the number of internet users in China had reached 1.067 billion.
Amid the growing prominence of data security concerns, the ministry called for bolstered protection of critical information infrastructure, and the enhancement of early warning and trace-ability capabilities.
Furthermore, the coordination of policies, supervision and laws must be intensified to improve the protection system for data property rights. Also, the protection of technology patents, digital copyrights, digital content products and personal privacy should also be reinforced, it said.
China's legal system in the field of data security has also been continuously improved in recent years, with the Cybersecurity Law, the Data Security Law, the Personal Information Protection Law and the Measures for Data Export Security Assessment having been promulgated and implemented successively since 2016.