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Hackers jam railway ticketing system

Hackers jam railway ticketing system
As Taiwan residents began preparing to return to their hometowns or travel to leisure spots for the Lunar New Year holidays, online rail ticket buyers yesterday found that they were unable to complete their purchases in the last stage of the process as a hacker had jammed the Taiwan Railways Administration system.

According to the TRA, the problem was caused by a hacker who spiked the system as a practical joke at the start of this peak period for ticket sales. The source of the problem was discovered after TRA technicians conducted an investigation of the voice/web railway ticket pre-ordering system, which was launched at 6 a.m. yesterday.

According to TRA chief Hsu Ta-wen, the commissioner of the railway ticket reservation system, Chunghwa Telecom, refreshed the system after the hacker was discovered at around 10 a.m.

Hsu said that the TRA has been closely monitoring the system since an illegal network-jamming program was discovered last Friday. The disruption was due to sloppy supervision by Chunghwa Telecom, the TRA said.

On January 6, an online railway ticket-buying program was reported to local authorities, who later found that computer programmers, military officers and even railway station chiefs were involved.

The program was sending out bugs to the host at peak hours, overriding the legitimate system so others could not access it. Additionally, since online tickets are purchased based on a reservation code linked to the buyer's I.D. number, the hacker only needed to enter fake I.D. numbers to order tickets on the system.

The TRA also received complaints from people about being disconnected from the ticket pre-ordering system after spending exasperatingly long hours on the telephone line. TRA officials, however, explained that the telephone system is likely to be jammed because of the large volume of ticket buyers at this time of year.

The TRA is putting on 500 extra trains to accommodate the increased volume of travelers during the Lunar New Year holiday, from January 25 to February 6, and will add extra cars to the trains if necessary. The trains are expected to transport an average of 482,000 passengers per day.Hack