Police in Beijing have detained nine people from a tech company which developed a malware program to hijack overseas online traffic, media reported Tuesday.
The malware, called "fireball," developed by a Beijing-based tech company, infected more than 250 million computers outside China in one year, which generated 80 million yuan (.85 million) for the company, The Beijing News reported.
"The nine people arrested are the key staff members of the company. They are all very young and have IT backgrounds. They also know something about counter-detection," the police in Haidian district said.
"Simply put, the malware is activated on the links they are hidden in, unknown to the user, to increase advertisement views and, therefore, advertisement charges," the police said based on the suspects' confessions.
"The malware may take the user to certain sites against their will, which may collect their personal information. China, as a member of the international cyber community, is committed to cracking down of such crimes," Xie Jiangyong, associate professor at the Institute of Internet Governance and Law of Beijing University of Posts and Telecommunications, told the Global Times on Tuesday.
"Fireball" was reported to the police by "Haidian Netizen" on June 3, who found an online report on "fireball" by a renowned overseas security lab.
By stimulating the infection process, the police got hold of the evidence and located the company.
This is the first case in Beijing involving the theft of data from overseas users, the police said.