Chinese tech giant Baidu revealed that a group of hackers attempted to steal the company’s driverless car technology.
Ma Jie, Baidu’s head of cybersecurity, told Bloomberg News that while it did not know who was behind the attempt, it was perpetrated by hackers-for-hire.
“It’s very difficult to know who employs them to do that, but we know someone tried to hire someone in the underground market to steal from us,” Ma explained.
In an effort to help thwart the growing cybersecurity threat, Baidu has made an effort to collaborate with rival tech companies like Tencent and Alibaba.
“The underground industry is getting bigger and getting stronger, so we must help each other against the whole underground industry,” Ma added. “We’re not enemies; they are the enemy.”
In the world of China’s internet industry, a trio holds a lot of power: Alibaba, Baidu and Tencent.
Last year, The Wall Street Journal reported that the threesome maintains sway over the industry with the strength of their collective checkbooks. Known colloquially as a unit as BAT, the search engine and social media players have paid billions of dollars to grab minority stakes, or outright buy, smaller firms — chiefly startups — to grab a hold of their growth (and strengthen their own competitive positioning).
The question, WSJ posed, is whether buying smaller firms, consistently and quickly, blunts innovation. One observer thinks that this is the case. Xinlei Chen, professor of marketing at Shanghai Jiaotong University, said: “The monopoly power of BAT is much greater than the internet giants in the U.S.,” as antitrust laws are more relaxed in China, relatively speaking.
This has led to Tencent, for example, making two dozen investments within its home country, more than many individual private investment firms. Other firms, such as Alibaba and Baidu, have been setting up investment vehicles. Baidu has created a $3 billion fund to invest in internet firms.
As hackers continue to increase the strength and sophistication of their schemes, cybersecurity may just be the next big place for BAT investment.