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Every PC in China could be at risk of being taken over by malicious hackers because of flaws in compulsory government software.
The potential faults were brought to light by Chinese computer experts who said the flaw could lead to a "large-scale disaster".
The Chinese government has mandated that all computers in the country must have the screening software installed.
It is intended to filter out offensive material from the net.
Hackers who attack defence or commercial computers in the US and UK in future may be in for a surprise: a counterattack, authorised and carried out by the police and defence agencies that aims to disrupt and even knock them off the net.
The secret plans, prompted by the explosion in the number of computer-crime incidents from east Asia targeting commercially or politically sensitive information, are known as "strikeback", and are intended to target hackers' computers and disrupt them, in some cases involving denial of service attacks.
According to well-placed sources, work on "strikeback" has already begun in the UK, with the Serious Organised Crime Agency (Soca) and London's Metropolitan police's (the Met) e-crime unit working to deploy teams. The measures are being adopted because of the unprecedented level of attacks being suffered from hacking groups in China, Russia and North Korea, which are suspected of being state sponsored.