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December 27, 2010

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Paying high price for fastest clicks

BARGAIN hunters using "cheating" software to help them secure cheap goods on fastest-click-wins shopping websites could end up paying a high price for their purchases.

This online shopping method - known as "SecKill" - has become very popular in China. Web users can snap up bargains at very low prices, provided they're first to click on the "Purchase" button.

Items such as iPads and iPhones are sometimes sold at special SecKill events with price tags of as little as 1 yuan (15 US cents).

SecKill has also led to a shady industry in software designed to ensure that a customer's order reaches the site before those of rivals.

Some applications can be downloaded free from small websites, while others with advanced functions cost as much as 5,000 yuan.

But some applications may contain a trojan - malware that permits unauthorized access to the user's computer system - allowing online criminals to steal from bankcards, warn IT engineers.

The dangers were revealed when one local SecKill fan, surnamed Sun, complained online that he lost 2,500 yuan after using the software.

Sun said he was delighted when in a SecKill event on, the country's biggest e-commerce platform, he successfully ordered three items, with the help of the software. But after paying the money, the goods never arrived.

In usual transactions, money is paid to the online shopping platform, which then forwards money to the vendor, who dispatches the goods.

However, in this case the hacker intercepted the transaction - with the card details - before it could reach the platform.

IT engineers from an anti-virus company analyzed Sun's computer and discovered a trojan hidden in the software he'd downloaded. It was being used by a hacker to monitor Sun's computer and steal from his bankcard.

According to an engineer with the company, more than 10,000 computers are infected with this trojan every day.

Engineers advise web users to resist the temptation to download software that assists in SecKill shopping and recommend that online shoppers install anti-virus software to monitor the whole trading process.

Many online vendors at are planning to host SecKill events late on Friday night to celebrate the arrival of the New Year.


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