One billion Chinese citizens have had their data stolen after a Shanghai police database was breached by unknown hackers, leaving cybersecurity experts shocked at what many are calling the largest breach of its kind in the country’s history. 

More than 23 terabytes of data have been stolen by the hacker or hackers including names, birthplaces, addresses, national IDs, even criminal case information, a post on a cybercrime forum from last week revealed. According to Bloomberg, the hacker(s) asked for 10 bitcoin, currently worth ~$200,000. 

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China’s security community in particular have reacted in shock, with some questioning the credibility of the leak and how it could have happened at all. 

Zhao Changpeng, founder and Chief Executive of Officer of Binance, a crypto exchange, on Monday, July 4, tweeted that his company had detected that one billion residents’ records had been breached in “one Asian country” without specifying which. According to Changpeng, the company has upped security and increased security verification for users who it thinks might have been affected.

Neither the Shanghai authorities nor the city’s police or the Cyberspace Administration of China had responded to Bloomberg’s requests for a comment. 

The hack is not without irony. Many Western nations including the United States have previously accused China of being the world’s biggest source of cybercriminals. China has often been accused of sending hackers into foreign servers to find data as well as valualble intellectual property. The hack also happens to be one that is seeing coverage, given that domestic incidents are rarely reported because of dodgy reporting processes. 

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A similar hack to this one occurred in 2016, which targeted prominent members of the Communist party, including Jack Ma and Wang Jianlin. The information was made public on Twitter. Earlier this year, thousands of files containing information about the abuse of the Uyghurs, a Muslim-ethnic community in the Xinjiang region, were leaked.

There is a widespread understanding that Chinese citizens’ data is collected as part of the Communist Party’s attempts to keep people in line and censor content. To that extent, leaking private data results in potential jail terms.