Cyber Espionage: chatting tools contain spying software?

What if you come to know that msn or facebook is packed with malicious software, and is now spying your computer without your knowledge or consent, just like what ghost net did? Well, I’m not just scaring you! QQ, The most popular social networking software in China is now suspected of committing cyber espionage!

Things started with a new software called 360 Privacy Protecter, designed by 360 Company. This software aims to check the security of private documents on personal computer, namely whether documents on this computer are being spied, by what kind of software. What astonished all is that as soon as this software was out in market, a large number of users claimed that QQ is involved and badly suspected of spying their personal documents such as Office documents, chatting record documents etc.


QQ is the most widely-used chatting software, designed by Tencent Company. Till 2010, it enjoyed quite a large number of customers (more than one billion, even larger than that of MSN), thus making Tencent the largest Internet Company In China. It’s not an exaggeration to say that where there is Internet, there is QQ. It has almost become part of Chinese’s daily life, just like MSN to English-speaking countries. However, 360 is a relatively small company, aiming to provide free software such as 360 Security Manager, 360 anti-virus software, to protect security of PC.

As soon as 360 pointed out QQ’s cyber spying, it became a headline new related to  internet issues and the fierce war between these two companies broke out. QQ responded that 360 mistook the legal function of scanning as spying, and only picked holes in QQ on purpose, out of its jealousy to the large number of QQ’s comsumers; while 360 claimed that QQ’s cyber espionage action disappointed all the users and would sooner or later lose the trust of the public. A lot of evidence seems to provide support to 360’s accusation, such as many users receive 2~3 spam mails every month, as some QQ users stated.

As the war went further, the fact seems to be a deliberate frame-up because 360 Privacy Protector will take any program named QQ as spying software. However, this war is far more than a funny joke. What is alarming to us is not laughter but deep concern about the security of our privacy.

For us ordinary users, when we take advantage of those so-called secure software or browsing those so-called safe sites, we are in fact not really aware of what the function of the software may be packed with, and not even informed of what the websites might do with our personal information. Moreover, many sites like Facebook, msn, gmail, renren, require our personal information to be true. When we finally let our information out, we do not even have the slightest idea about which site sold out our personal information! Under these circumstances, as an ordinary Internet user, what should we do to protect our privacy? How should we prevent it? Most of the time, it’s impossible for us to go through every privacy rule before browsing every website. And it is not convenient for us to make up too much fake information for those social networks such as facebook, which might result in a lot of inconvenience when communicating with our friends and relatives. In contrast, the disclosure of our information seems to bring no harm other than those annoying mails and other irritations. After comparison, it seems that the benefit of disclose our privacy exceeds its cost and risk. But is the cost totally inevitable? is there any possibility to  reduce the risk?

Well, in my opinion, it is the responsibility of those websites to inform the users and keep their words. On the other hand, the law should be passed to punish those who let out the users’ privacy. The most important is that for us ordinary users, try best to hold on to our own information. It’s your own choice to determine how much to share.

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