China has made it illegal to take control of PCs and use them for criminal activities. This is done with botnets (PCs that are secretly controlled by the criminals). These are primarily owned by criminal organizations.
It is suggested, on little evidence, that about a quarter of the 4-5 million PCs worldwide that have been infiltrated by hackers, turned into ‘zombies’, are Chinese.
Five years ago, the Chinese found that their own computers are already overrun with viruses and worms.
A government survey found that, in 2003, 87.9% of Chinese PCs connected to the Internet were infected, and most were still infected in 2004.
While the United States is regarded as the one nation most dependant on the Internet, it is also the country with the largest amount of effort dedicated to protecting its PCs from infection by ‘malware’ (viruses, worms, Trojans and the like.)
China is trying to get around this by using Linux, a free operating system that is far less vulnerable to attack via the Internet. But Linux does not have as much software available for it, and users are reluctant to abandon Windows.
The most serious aspect of all this is the number of government computers that are using Windows, and are infected. The government has found that switching to Linux is difficult, as there are not enough computer experts to carry this out. Less than ten percent of the PCs shipped in China have Linux on them.
Strategy Page reports that China is trying to fix this by subsidizing Linux training for Chinese engineers and computer technicians. The government also subsidized the development of the Unix based server software, and desktop versions of Linux that do everything a business needs, but are more secure than Microsoft software.