BEIJING Feb 4 Hackers in China attempted to
access over 20 million active accounts on Alibaba Group Holding
Ltd's Taobao e-commerce website using Alibaba's own
cloud computing service, according to a state media report
posted on the Internet regulator's website.
Analysts said the report from The Paper led to the price of
Alibaba's U.S.-listed shares falling as much as 3.7 percent in
late Wednesday trade.
An Alibaba spokesman on Thursday said the company detected
the attack in "the first instance", reminded users to change
passwords, and worked closely with the police investigation.
Chinese companies are grappling a sharp rise in the number
of cyber attacks, and cyber security experts say firms have a
long way to go before defences catch up to U.S. counterparts.
In the latest case, hackers obtained a database of 99
million usernames and passwords from a number of websites,
according to a separate report on a website managed by the
Ministry of Public Security.
The hackers then used Alibaba's cloud computing platform to
input the details into Taobao. Of the 99 million usernames, they
found 20.59 million were also being used for Taobao accounts,
the ministry website said.
The hackers started inputting the details into Taobao in
mid-October and were discovered in November, at which time
Alibaba immediately reported the case to police, the ministry
website said. The hackers have since been caught, it said.
Alibaba's systems discovered and blocked the vast majority
of log-in attempts, according to the ministry website.
The hackers used compromised accounts to fake orders on
Taobao, a practice known as "brushing" in China and used to
raise sellers' rankings, the newspaper said. The hackers also
sold accounts to be used for fraud, it said.
Alibaba's spokesman declined to comment on how the hackers
were able to use its cloud computing service for the attack. He
said they could have used any such service, and that the attack
was not made possible by loopholes in Alibaba's platform.
"Alibaba's system was never breached," the spokesman said.
(Reporting by Paul Carsten; Additional reporting by Beijing
Newsroom; Editing by Christopher Cushing)