Or is he a double-spy under the guise of a defector who ‘got in’ and is now feeding information back to the PLA?
A leading Chinese hacker who used to attack American targets in the name of patriotism is now sharing his skills with Western multinational firms.
Earlier, US security experts had identified a specialist hacking unit within the People’s Liberation Army honing in on their institutions.
China is now calling for a global anti-hacking agreement, but one of the biggest threats still comes from those working outside the system.
Hacker Laoying, meaning Eagle, is seen as something of a godfather by his peers.
Laoying is not his real name. He agreed to an interview with the ABC on the condition that his cyberspace title was used.
For the love of China, he and his friends used to target the governments of the US and Taiwan, human rights groups, and anyone who they believed was humiliating China.
At one time, as the head of the “Eagle Union”, he led a team of so-called red hackers who were responsible for major security breaches.
“We chose targets which were easy to attack and would attract media attention,” he said.
“We would prefer officials or government websites but really it all depended on whether the hosting server had vulnerabilities or not.”
These days, Laoying works for a major Western multinational computer company – as well as other clients – putting his old skills to work to protect against attacks.
Now many of the old hacking crew work for Laoying’s cyber security firm.
Laoying does not see any inconsistency in now working with the police to help track down other hackers.
“If a former criminal works for the police, does he become the enemy of other criminals?” he said.
“I never think of hacking as being in opposition to cyber police. In fact, the two are complementary.
“Hackers are young people who are good at discovering and raising problems.”