China is known to have full control of information flow inside its borders. The primary tool the Chinese authorities use to control the flow of data and information is their Great Firewall. The second biggest economy in the world is making sure it has stored information of all their citizens and foreigners visiting the mainland. How granular the information gathered by Chinese authorities? Well, Victor Gevers, a security researcher of GDI Foundation found-out about a database full of information about 1.8 million Chinese women who were categorized as “breed ready”.
The database is accessible in a public IP address, which can be visited through the use of a web browser with no authentication at all. Gevers verified that the database he stumbled upon contained real-world personal information of 1.8 million Chinese women, including their full names, phone numbers, address and a special category if they are “breed ready” or not.
“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? 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%],” explained Gevers in his Twitter account @0xDUDE.
It is not yet known who is maintaining the database and under whose authority in China has direct supervision on the “BreedReady” records. There was a population theory in China that the country is lacking at least 60 million women, as a side effect of their decades-long one-child policy. During the implementation of the one-child program, Chinese parents prefer to have a male child instead of a female, with the perception that raising a male is more economically helpful for the family.
There is speculation that this database is not made by the Chinese government but from a Chinese-based dating website that categorizes its members if they are still fertile or not. Since China is a huge country with many Chinese dialects, there is also a possibility that there was a translation error, “BreadReady” may means the lady already was pregnant.
India is set to overtake China as the most populated country this coming new decade, with the one-child policy being responsible for the decline of the latter’s population. Open databases accessible through a public IP address is nothing new, there is a handful of public IP addresses from the U.S. also exposes personal information without any login authentication. Due to how China deals with its internal top-secret information, Gevers has no way to determine with 100% accuracy who is behind the publicly accessible female Chinese database.
However, someone is really monitoring the database, as Gevers lost public access to the records after accessing it for the last 5 hours. “The unprotected database is not reachable anymore for the last 5 hrs. We will keep an eye on that IP address for a while to make sure it doesn’t come back online. We still do not know how the owner was or what the database was actually designed for. When we do, we will share this,” said Gevers.