Chinese police have shut down what is being called the country's biggest hacker-training website, the state-run Xinhua News Agency said in a report Monday.
Three individuals who allegedly ran the hacker site, called the Black Hawk Safety Net, were charged with suspicion of making hacker tools available online, the report said. The site was established in 2005 and headquartered in Xuchang, in China's east-central Henan Province.
Police said the site was used to distribute hacking tools, including several versions of trojans that members could download.
Before being shuttered, the site boasted more than 12,000 "VIP" members, who paid a total of seven million yuan, or about $1 million, in membership fees. In addition, at least 170,000 others registered for free membership.
As part of the bust, police froze more than 1.7 million yuan in assets, or about $249,000, including nine web servers, five computers and a Honda Accord.
The shutdown comes during a rocky time for U.S.-China cyber-relations. Less than a month ago, Google disclosed that hackers, believed to be from China, compromised its systems to steal intellectual property. The attack, dubbed “Operation Aurora,” also compromised systems at Adobe and more than 30 other large companies.
In response to the incident, Google said it would shut down its China-based search site, Google.cn, unless the Chinese government loosened its censorship rules. After the attack, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said the incident raised “very serious concerns and questions” and asked the Chinese government for an explanation.
Chinese officials rejected claims that the nation was involved, according to published reports.
But a recent report prepared for Congress found that the number of cyberattacks against the U.S. government rose sharply in 2009, and many of the attacks came from Chinese state and state-sponsored entities.