A computer repairperson in northeastern China has been taken into custody by police on the suspicion that they secretly installed software on a customer’s laptop to record videos of her remotely.
The victim, a 19-year-old student from Dalian, a coastal city in Liaoning province, had taken her laptop in for repairs in October. About two months later, when she was back at her university in another city, police contacted her and showed her several videos from inside her dorm room, including one of her roommate changing clothes, local newspaper Peninsula Morning Post reported Monday.
An employee of the repair shop where the suspect worked refused to comment when contacted by Peninsula Morning Post, but an anonymous interviewee said that the suspect had operated on their own. The report did not identify the suspect’s gender or age, or explain how police discovered the spying.
In June, China’s General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection, and Quarantine warned that four out of five internet-connected surveillance cameras could be accessed by hackers. Many people in China put such cameras in their own homes so they can monitor their children or elderly parents from their smartphones.
The same day, a reporter from state broadcaster China Central Television showed that for just 188 yuan ($28), she was able to buy software online that could tap into unsecured webcams — those whose default passwords had not been changed, for example. The reporter also found online communities where people shared the login details of hundreds of video feeds from inside strangers’ homes.
In September, a report published during a conference on cybersecurity said that 90 percent of Android smartphones sold in China contained software flaws that could allow hackers to control the device and obtain personal information, which could then be sold on the black market.
Of China’s more than 700 million people with internet access, over half had their contact details leaked in 2016, according to anti-virus software company Qihoo 360, making them more susceptible to phone scams and other unsavory schemes.
Editor: Qian Jinghua.
(Header image: A woman uses a laptop computer in Beijing, Sept. 19, 2015. Xu Qing/VCG)