Alibaba faces China probe over data theft: WSJ report

NEW YORK (BLOOMBERG) – Executives from Alibaba Group Holding’s cloud division have been summoned for talks by the authorities in Shanghai in connection with the theft of a vast police database, the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) reported, citing people familiar with the matter.

China has been rocked in recent weeks by one of the largest cyber-security breaches in the country’s history. Hackers claimed to have stolen data on as many as a billion Chinese residents after penetrating a police database. The person or group claiming the attack offered to sell the information online for the equivalent of about US$200,000 (S$280,400).

According to WSJ, cyber-security researchers said a dashboard for managing the database had been left open without a password for more than a year, making it easy to steal and erase its contents.

Based on scans of the database, the researchers concluded that it was hosted on Alibaba’s cloud platform, according to WSJ. Company employees also confirmed the relationship, the paper said. The Chinese tech giant has been conducting an internal investigation into how the heist was allowed to happen, the newspaper reported.

Executives called in for meetings with the Shanghai authorities include Alibaba Cloud vice-president Chen Xuesong, who was recently hired to lead the unit’s digital public security business, WSJ said, citing people familiar with the matter.

An Alibaba representative in the United States did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Alibaba’s American depositary receipts fell 5.1 per cent in New York trading on Thursday (July 14).