China arrests 4 people who developed ChatGPT based ransomware

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Microsoft-owned ChatGPT, developed by OpenAI, remains officially inaccessible in China. However, an intriguing turn of events reveals that hackers within the country have managed to exploit the service through VPNs. These cyber criminals successfully deployed ransomware, encrypting servers within a Hangzhou-based firm in Zhejiang Province.

In a surprising twist, China has arrested four individuals linked to this incident. Strikingly, the charges do not pertain to the creation of a file-encrypting malware or the disruption of IT services; rather, the arrests focus on the fraudulent use of a foreign AI-based online service within the region.

Initially reported by the South China Morning Post, this story has gained traction on various social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook, capturing the attention of the Western audience since Wednesday of this week.

The cyber-criminals behind the ransomware attack demanded a ransom of 20,000 Tether, a cryptocurrency currently valued at $1 in the international crypto markets.

OpenAI has implemented restrictions on access to its service in specific regions, including Iran, North Korea, Hong Kong, China, Russia, and Singapore. Despite these limitations, tech enthusiasts and individuals with malicious intent are circumventing the restrictions using Virtual Private Networks to access the conversational chatbot.

According to cybersecurity sources, three of the four arrested individuals were apprehended in a commercial area in Beijing, while the remaining individual was taken into custody in Mongolia, a region situated between Russia and China. Notably, three of the detainees were also implicated in other criminal activities, such as leveraging deep fake technology to spread misinformation and selling CCTV footage pilfered from the internet.

It is worth highlighting that this arrest report is a rarity in Chinese media, typically constrained by the strict information control policies of the Xi Jinping government.

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Naveen Goud is a writer at Cybersecurity Insiders covering topics such as Mergers & Acquisitions, Startups, Cyber Attacks, Cloud Security and Mobile Security

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