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Train ticket software ban stirs controversy

(People's Daily Online)

08:00, January 23, 2013


According to the pre-sale time announced by the Ministry of Railways, people can buy the tickets of Feb. 9 beginning at Jan. 21. With the arrival of ticket-booking peak period, a variety of software for grabbing tickets has also become popular on the Internet, which triggered the debate on fairness and security.

How does the ticket grabbing software work?

The reporter consulted the developers of popular ticket grabbing software.

A developer told the reporter that the ticket-grabbing software simulate a person to submit the booking request at every five or six seconds, so it can save the time blindly waiting in front of the computer. By using the technology of browser plug-in to automatically identify where people need to fill a form and then skip some other steps, these software can help complete the booking of tickets that people have to spend tens of seconds to complete in less than a second.

Another developer also told the reporter that the major task of the ticket grabbing software is "automatic inquiry and reminding." People must keep a close watch on the "query" button of the website and submit it when it is allowed to be clicked. Therefore, the role of ticket grabbing software is to submit the query automatically and remind immediately when the tickets are available.

Is "ticket grabbing plug-in" equal to jumping a queue?

Director of the Institute of Computer Technology under China Academy of Railway Sciences Zhu Jiansheng said, "It can be compared to a pedestrian street, which does not allow the vehicles and bicycles in."

Some media said that although the software used for grabbing tickets is not illegal, they reduced the opportunities of others to get a ticket, and runs contrary to the principle of "fair opportunity."

Does the software of grabbing tickets have potential risks of leaking the user information out?

Internet security expert Shi Xiaohong said that people must open an online bank account to buy a ticket on the Internet, which is more likely to incur Trojan viruses. According to reports, some of the ticket-grabbing software has been bundled with "banker key logger" by hackers to monitor the online banking payment operations and tamper the payment amounts and the name of payees. Experts suggested that Internet users should open security software before buying a ticket on the Internet to prevent Trojan viruses from stealing the properties of online banking.

Will the software of grabbing tickets retain users' personal information?

The reporter called and asked a developer and was told that the personal information is not useful for the formal Internet companies. The users can lodge a claim with the Internet companies if they suffer economic losses because of using the ticket-grabbing software.

The Rising security expert Tang Wei said that they cannot absolutely guarantee the security of the ticket-grabbing software, so the user information will probably be leaked out once some hacker invades the websites.

Read the Chinese version: 抢票软件,抢了谁的票?; Source: People's Daily

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