China's biggest online travel agency Ctrip goes offline after hacker attack

China's biggest online travel agency Ctrip goes offline after hacker attack

China's biggest online travel agency Ctrip.com International Ltd was back online after a cyberattack forced its website and mobile app to go offline for 12 hours. According to the company's first quarter profit data, Ctrip.com lost $1.07 million (S$1.44 m) per hour due to the cyberattack.

The company said in an official statement that the attack, which occurred at 11:09 am, had damaged part of its servers. It said its technicians and engineers were working hard to restores all services.

The company denied rumours that all of its data were deleted and there were no data backups, saying "there is no loss of data on the platform and ordering data are kept intact".

Users who clicked on the company's website were directed to a page with the message "service unavailable". Its search engine service and other links were also not accessible.

"According to our investigations, all user data are safe with us right now. There is no danger," the company said.

The attack came just days after Ctrip received a financial boost of US$250 million from the world's largest online travel operator Priceline.com LLC.

According to a report by the Beijing-based Internet consultancy Analysys International, Ctrip accounts for 31.1 per cent of China's booming online travel sector, which amounted to 33.2 billion yuan (S$7.28 b) in 2014.

Zhu Zhengyu, an analyst at Analysys International, said: "The breakdown will have a significant impact on consumers, especially those who have already ordered hotels and flights on the Ctrip platform.

"Due to the cyberattack, customers will be unable to check into the hotels they have ordered online. It will also make it impossible for passengers to change flights," Zhu said. Ctrip's website shows the company has about 60 million members.

Zhu said: "Ctrip's business mainly involves booking hotels online. Many of its partners will see a considerable decline in traffic due to the breakdown."

It is not unknown for online travel sites to suffer from technical failures or cyberattacks. Major market players such as eLong Inc, in which Ctrip owns a 37.6 per cent stake, also experienced an online attack on Dec 12.

Zhu said though Ctrip said users data are not compromised due to the attack, considering the big data boom in China, it is important for Internet companies to beef up efforts to protect data from cyberattacks.

Alipay services hit by optical fiber glitch

With a growing number of people linking their debit cards to smartphones, any failure in the optical fiber network can have serious ramifications.

Alipay, the most popular mobile payment service offered by Alibaba Group Holding Ltd's financial affiliate, suffered a breakdown on Wednesday afternoon due to optical fiber problems.

Zhejiang Ant Small and Micro Financial Services Group Co Ltd, owner of Alipay, said the breakdown was caused after a part of the optical fiber lines in Hangzhou, Zhejiang province, where one of its major data centres is based, was cut.

At 5 pm on Wednesday, users in Beijing, Zhejiang and other cities reported problems in using Alipay. They could not log on to the platform.

Cheng Li, chief technology operator of Alipay, said after the incident the company had moved quickly to divert traffic to computer bases in other cities and the services had been restored in two hours.

Technology experts said the company is yet to fix the broken optical fiber link, but had been taking steps to minimise the fallout.

This is not the first time that Chinese Internet companies have suffered from optical fiber cable issues. In October, WeChat, the most popular instant messaging services offered by Tencent Holdings Ltd, also experienced similar problems. Some users were unable to access WeChat because of problems in its Shanghai-based computer centre.

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