Pony Ma: Chinese Criminal Gangs Lead the World in Data Theft Through AI

Chairman and CEO of Tencent Pony Ma said at the 2018 Guardian Plan Conference that China’s criminal gangs lead the world, and AI technology has accelerated their ability to steal user data from corporate databases. New types of cybercrime are developing features of industrialization, intelligence and internationalization.

Ma said last year that Tencent had assisted police in cracking down on the largest domestic platform that breaks verification code using AI technology. Moreover, police further cracked down on chains that were stealing accounts, cracking CAPTCHAs, selling citizen information and online fraud. Gangs have adopted new features such as industrialization, intelligence and internationalization. It needs to be dealt with in three aspects: new technologies to combat crimes; new alliances to solve problems; and new ecology to prevent risks.

The following is the full text of Pony Ma’s speech:

Distinguished Deputy Minister Shi Jun, member of the Judicial Committee of the Supreme People’s Court Hu Yunteng, member of the Procuratorial Committee of the Supreme People’s Procuratorate Chen Guoqing, chief engineer of the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology Zhang Feng, chief of the Science and Technology Division of the People’s Bank of China Li Wei and distinguished guests, good morning!

We just heard a speech by leaders of the judicial organs, MIIT and PBOC. We can all feel their determination to safeguard network security and common governance. These speeches were quite inspirating, and offered ideas that Internet enterprises should practice and explore.

Tencent launched Guardian Plan two years ago. The Plan has evolved from Tencent‘s anti-fraud public service platform into a social public platform that promotes the whole industry to open up and jointly fight online crime. The Plan was named by CCTV’s Rule of Law of the Year for two consecutive years. More and more companies have joined the Plan. Today, representatives from China Unicom, SF, Union Pay and other important enterprises have come here as part of the Plan. Through the support and care of authorities, the Plan has grown beyond Tencent, and is now a comprehensive network management system and an important force in cracking down on cybercrimes and in fostering a network security community.

However, illegal gangs have started to utilize industrialization, intelligence and internationalization. It needs to be dealt with in three aspects:

First, we need to adopt new technologies to combat new crimes. In cracking down on telecom and online fraud, we find it more and more necessary to thoroughly control the source of online crimes and to occupy the commanding heights of network security.

Last year, Tencent cooperated with public security organs to deal with illegal and criminal behaviors such as hacker attacks and infringement of private information. Tencent further assisted in combating downstream crimes, such as fraud, pyramid schemes and pornography. Tencent has helped to solve more than 160 cases throughout the year. However, cyber criminals are also improving their skills by upgrading their techniques. For example, criminal gangs in China are the world’s leaders at breaking CAPTCHAs using a neural network. AI technology has helped to speed up the theft of user data from corporate databases. Tencent assisted the police in cracking down on the largest domestic platform that breaks verifications using AI technology. Moreover, Tencent further assisted the police in cracking down on illegal chains from account theft to cracking CAPTCHAs, selling citizen information and online fraud. Last year, new products such as Situation Awareness and Lingkun improved the protection systems for cyber crime. China has evolved from “defense after the fact” and “interception”, to “warning in advance”. At present, new products have performed their roles in the public security, industry and commerce, food and drug administration and other departments. In the future, Tencent and its partners will fight illegal production and fight for security using new technologies.

Second, we need new alliances to solve new problems. The innovative application of new technology in cyber crime is best opposed by combining the technological capabilities of Internet enterprises with the experience of authorities. To this end, Tencent has set up a joint laboratory with the Shanghai and Shenzhen police. At the same time, it is working with the State Administration for Industry and Commerce (SAIC) to build a Network Pyramid Selling Monitoring and Management Base in order to combat online and offline pyramid schemes. Tencent also works with major banks and local financial bureaus to provide financial security big data risk management services, and to effectively curb financial crimes. It is also hard to identify new types of cybercrime in judicial practice. Together with China University of Political Science and Law, Tencent established its Network Law Research Institute to promote the combination of theoretical research and the latest practices. Thus, cyberspace can truly become a land of law. Only with cooperation between government, enterprise, universities and institutions, can we fulfill the Guardian Plan, achieve multi-dimensional breakthroughs and solve new problems.

Finally, we need to build new ecologies against new risks. In regional governance, it is necessary to change the local social environment, which involves ecological governance. In the past two years, we cracked down on traditional telecom fraud. But many lawbreakers will simply switch to other online platforms, causing new problems. This tells us that in the future, we need to seek both temporary and permanent solutions. For instance, we could guide these people to normal employment and reduce the living space for illegal behaviors. That’s why we need universal participation. Last year, under the guidance of the Joint Office under the State Council, Tencent launched an anti-fraud public welfare activity, attracting more than 5 million people to participate. This anti-fraud knowledge popularization reduced the number of fraud victims. In the future, we expect more people to take action, and join the anti-fraud action. We can start from changing the surrounding ecology, and in the end we can build a new ecology through joint effort.

It has been 20 years since Tencent was established. It is our responsibility to have zero tolerance for online crime. In the future, Tencent will continuously upgrade its self-cleaning capability and further fight against pornography, fraud and pyramid schemes. At the same time, Tencent will fully open its technology and ability, actively participate in “new technology”, “new alliance” and “new ecology”. Tencent will jointly build a “network security community”. We also hope the Guardian Plan can explore and improve the co-governance model and become a “China solution” to global cyber security governance.

Thank you!

This article originally appeared in Sina Technology and was translated by Pandaily.