Processed Leather for Making Gelatin
Factories closed down in China on Monday were using rotten strips of leather for refining into gelatin, later used to form pill capsules. Xinhua

The websites of Chinese drugmakers have been attacked by hackers incensed by news of criminal behavior and quality control problems in the country's drug industry.

On Monday, hackers broke into the websites of Chinese drug manufacturing companies Qinghai Geladan, Xiuzheng Pharameuticals and Tonghua Jinma.

Earlier that day, the Chinese government closed down nine factories that produced 13 kinds of non-prescription medicines used for treating common illnesses like colds and sore throats.

Investigative journalists revealed that the factories used poisonous materials in the production of the thin capsules that coat pills and drugs. Gelatin and protein powders used by these factories in making the capsules were extracted from old shoe leather and scrap materials, some including dangerously high amounts of heavy metals.

Unlike international cyber-syndicate Anonymous' attack on municipal and business sites earlier this April, which displayed messages mostly in English, hackers this time posted in Chinese.

Postings on the sites included insults and criticism of not only the companies in question, but also in general against society's failure to protect average citizens.

The website of Xiuzheng Pharmaceuticals (the name rather ironically means Correct Pharmaceuticals) carried the tongue-in-cheek message For capsules, please choose Correct Pharmaceuticals! Good for your conscience! Put your mind at ease! Chinese people really know how to cheat themselves!

Another read, You took my rotten shoes to make pills? Whenever Chinese hackers see scum like these companies, we should attack! Citing a history of poor food quality standards in China, the hacker message added, First Sanlu, Mengniu, and Digou oil, now I have to add your rotten shoe cold pills to the list. One day I might become superhuman!

Sanlu and Mengniu are two major dairy companies that sold melamine-tainted milk in 2008. The government then reported that approximately 300,000 babies had taken ill from drinking tainted baby formula. Digou oil or recycled ditch-oil refers to China's black market for supplying cheap oil alternatives for human consumption. Police closed down illegal cooking oil producers in early April, in a nationally publicized raid.

An attack against another company read: Drinking Sanlu, eating Digou oil, then drinking Mengniu, and then breathing poisoined air... now your poisoned medicines as well. My immune system must be amazing! Surviving won't be easy!

Some attacks lectured the companies on their social responsibilities: You should make ethical medicines!!! If you have to cheat someone, why choose people from your own country!!

China's micro-blogging or weibo services, an increasingly useful means to gauge the opinions of China's massive community of youthful Internet users, have been full of support for the hacking attacks.