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by Paul Kerstein

Chinese Police Detain Man for Stealing IM Names

News
Nov 16, 20052 mins
CSO and CISOData and Information Security

Chinese police have detained a man in the southern city of Shenzhen forstealing and selling numeric user names stolen from China’s popular QQinstant-messaging (IM) service, the official China Daily newspaperreported Wednesday.

The man, who was not named in the report, has admitted to stealing andselling QQ user names for years, China Daily said. The man apparentlystole the user names by decoding and changing the passwords, accordingto the report.

QQ is an IM application developed by Tencent Inc., of Shenzhen. Thecompany claimed to have 173 million active user accounts at the end ofJune, with up to 16 million accounts active at any given time.

With so many users, QQ user names must now be at least nine numberslong. Shorter user names, of five to six numbers, are worth a premiumto some users who are willing to pay up to 1,000 renminbi (US$124) fora six-character user name, according to the China Daily.

User names with fewer characters mean that a user has been a QQ usersince the early days of the service, which was launched in 1999, andthis gives the user status in QQ circles, said Catherine Chan, aspokeswoman for the company.

The problem of stolen user names is not new, Chan said. “We have hadsome users having their names stolen or hacked, and we’ve doneeverything we can to help those users regain their names,” she said.

By Sumner Lemon – IDG News Service (Taipei Bureau)