A hacker and researcher at a Netherlands-based non-profit GDI Foundation has exposed a database that contains details like phone numbers, addresses, education, location, ID number and marital status of 1.8 million Chinese women. What’s creepy about the database is that it also has their “BreedReady” status as well. According to security researcher Victor Gevers, anyone with the IP address of the database could visit it.
“We don’t know who is behind this database and what the intention was...that is the part that worries us the most,” The Verge quoted Gevers as saying. Gevers said that the database’s IP address was in China and that most of the women included in the records were located in Beijing. Interestingly, the database was online for only one and a half days after it was exposed and shut down by 4AM ET (1.30PM IST) on Monday.
In China, they have a shortage of women. So an organization started to build a database to start registering over 1,8 million women with all kinds of details like phone numbers, addresses, education, location, ID number, marital status, and a ”BreedReady" status? pic.twitter.com/fbRKsbNHPJ— Victor Gevers (@0xDUDE) 9 March 2019
The most disturbing part of the database was the evidence that more details about the women were being tracked. This included fields for “Political” and “Has Video,” and some linked to women’s Facebook profile pages. Although Facebook is banned in China, it is assumed that women who had Facebook pages could have been accessing the platform through a VPN. Also, the “BreedReady” data point seemed to have a binary connection, that is, if an entry says “1”, it probably indicated “yes” and a “0” would indicate “no” to the “BreedReady” status.
The youngest girl in this database is 15y old. The youngest woman with BreedReady:"1" status is 18y. The average age is a bit above 32y, and the most aged woman with a BR:1 is 39 and with a BR:0 is 95y. All are single [89%], divorced [10%] or widow[1%]. About 82% lives in 北京市. pic.twitter.com/qCP7FvFMB7— Victor Gevers (@0xDUDE) 9 March 2019
However, there is no clarity on who and for what purpose the database was created. There are chances that this could be the data from a Chinese dating app. When asked about a solution that users should opt to keep their data safe, Gevers said that people should not sign up for Chinese online services because some of them are not so secure.
“But that’s not very practical and nor is it right to say that all Chinese online services cannot be trusted. Also, Google and Facebook know a lot about people and they sell that data to third parties. So I don’t think I have an answer for this problem, because it extends much further than China. It is a global problem which we need to address. All nations (including China) need to stop this insanity for big data first because this is all going to end in tears if we keep going on this path,” he was quoted as saying.