Chinese Antivirus Companies Create the Viruses They Kill

By Li Ping
Li Ping
Li Ping
December 12, 2010 Updated: December 12, 2010

A well-placed Chinese security official has been given a suspended death sentence for taking bribes in exchange for his role in an antivirus software fraud scheme.

Yu Bing, former director of the Internet monitoring department of Beijing’s Public Security Bureau, had his agency send out a “virus warning” telling the public to download software from the company Rising Antivirus, to combat a particular computer virus.

But that virus was itself devised by Rising Antivirus, who bribed Yu to send out an email to drum up business, according to a Dec. 2 First Financial Daily report.

The case is an example of how corrupt Communist Party officials work hand in glove with private companies to help the latter gain an unfair market advantage, then receive kickbacks for the trouble.

The fact that Chinese software companies create the viruses they fight is an open secret in the industry, and something attested to by Yu. It’s also a sound moneymaking strategy and makes good business sense, according to industry insiders interviewed by Chinese media.

“There would be no need for antivirus software if there were no viruses,” an executive of a well-known PC manufacturer was quoted in the press as saying. “Only by having more or deadlier viruses can antivirus software be in greater demand. Hence antivirus companies usually have special research and development people to make viruses. It is also helpful for improving the company’s technology in detecting and killing viruses.”

Another software engineer told the First Financial Daily that in the 1990’s many antivirus companies adopted the strategy of creating viruses and then killing them. The phenomenon was somewhat restrained after 2000, he said.

Liu Xu, former president of Rising Antivirus, and president and founder of Eastern Micropoint, said in a public statement at the end of 2008 that there are many gray areas for antivirus companies to make and spread viruses; many types of malware have been developed by otherwise legitimate companies, while other products hover in a gray area between virus and normal software.

The rapid growth of Rising Antivirus demonstrates the enormous profit that can be made through the strategy of killing self-made viruses.

Read the original Chinese article

Li Ping