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Chinese define what is malicious software
by Konstantin Kornakov | Jan 31 2007 09:23 GMT

China finally has a new definition of what is termed "malicious software”, according to a report by the China News Service. Malware is currently big news in China, as a whole campaign has been started by the country's netizens to fight against so-called "hooligan software”. However, an important problem was that China lacked a general definition of what can be termed as "malicious software”, which could potentially lead to misunderstandings. In order to overcome this problem the Internet Society of China set up a special study group to develop an understanding of what is malware and work with the public in dealing with their complaints.

A call for input from the general public was made on November 8, when the ISC published its draft proposal and wanted to find out how Chinese web surfers felt about the problem. After receiving more that 8,500 different opinions a final version of the definition was unveiled. According to the Shanghai Daily malware has been defined as a "program that is installed on computers or other terminals without the user's permission and infringes the user's rights”. However, in order to fully satisfy the official definition, malware must also follow at least one of the following additional criteria as set out in Chinese sources:

  • Be installed without notification or approval

  • Not offer an uninstall service or remain after removal

  • Make changes to the user's browser or any other settings without permission, disabling access to the Internet or forcing to visit certain websites

  • Trigger pop-ups

  • Collect user data without notification or permission

  • Mislead users to uninstall non-malicious software

  • Be bundled with other known malware

  • Have any other issues that infringe the user's "right to know" and "right to choose."

Despite the prominence of China's anti-malware campaign, it has already suffered several setbacks, as at least one of the lawsuits launched by the anti-hooligan software group has been lost. A Beijing court recently ruled against claimant Dong Haiping, who accused Alibaba, one of the major Internet portals in China, of forcing him to install Yahoo Assistant, which in turn allegedly rendered the hard disk of his computer inoperable. However, the court decided that Mr Dong offered no proof of that and suggested that in fact it may have been some pirated software that was installed on the computer that came into conflict with Yahoo Assistant to cause the fault. The ISC itself recognizes that the definition of malware they have given does not have any legal validity and could not be used in a court of law. However, it will serve as an industry regulation and will certainly start a national debate that may lead to the inclusion of provisions regarding malware into China's legislation.


China Daily