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March 9, 2010

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Hackers said to attack server to rig auction

TWO men who allegedly attacked the server of the city's car-plate auction Website last July and brought the auction to a halt were charged with destroying the computer system yesterday by local prosecutors.

Zhou Xiongfeng, 23, a Zhejiang Province native and a former network manager in a local company, bought a car early last July.

To get a cheap plate, he thought to control the server of the Shanghai International Commodity Auction Co's Website, which held the plate auction, prosecutors alleged.

His idea, according to prosecutors: to limit the number of participants to keep the auction price low.

By downloading Trojan-type malware and paying an accomplice, Wang Yongfeng, a Shandong Province native, to spread it on the Internet, Zhou gained control of more than 5,000 computers, said prosecutors.

Zhou joined the online plate auction on the morning of July 18.

At 10:55am after the auction's first round, Zhou allegedly controlled the more than 5,000 computers to send instructions of a service turndown to the server of the auction Website. The server then couldn't operate normally, according to Jiading District prosecutors.

After the first round, the lowest bid was 100 yuan (US$14.64), with 8,834 registered bidders.

According to the rules, that meant the final bid price would be 400 yuan at most, an extremely low price compared with the 30,363 yuan of a month earlier.

After the system overload, authorities called off the monthly auction for private car plates for the first time since its 1994 inception.

Police uncovered the two hackers after investigation.


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