Shamed Chinese hacker turns panda protector

Fri Dec 10, 2010 6:32am EST
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BEIJING (Reuters) - A Chinese computer hacker's heavy conscience led him to donate 50,000 yuan ($7,520) to protect endangered pandas whose image he once used as messengers for a malicious computer virus, state media said on Friday.

Having recently completed a four-year jail term, Li Jun, whose incense-waving panda computer virus once infected millions of computers, gave the cash donation to China's main panda protection facility in Chengdu, Xinhua news agency reported.

Li, 28, and his three accomplices pulled in more than 200,000 yuan by selling anti-virus software to combat the "joss-stick burning panda" virus he designed, which changed desktop icons into cartoon pandas that deleted files and attacked web portals.

"The computer virus has been a nightmare for me. Now I'm happy to contribute to a clean on-line environment," Li said after donating the money to a special fund for a 5-month old cub named Yun, or Cloud.

Now Li and his new employer -- Panda Security -- are offering the artfully named "panda cloud office protection" anti-virus software to 10,000 Chinese businesses for their computer security, Xinhua said.

China has repeatedly said that it does not condone hacking, which remains a popular hobby in the country with numerous websites offering cheap courses on learning the basics.

The New York Times reported earlier this month, citing leaked diplomatic cables, that the hacking of Google Inc that led the Internet company to briefly pull out of China was orchestrated by two members of China's top ruling body. ($1=6.649 Yuan)

(Reporting by Michael Martina; Editing by Ben Blanchard and Miral Fahmy)