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Hacking makes auction website foul-proof

Hacking makes- Vishwas Deshpande.jpgE-Bay is one of the most popular online auction websites in the world.

Previously known as Auctionweb, it was established by Pierre Omidyar, a computer programmer in 1995.

He had never attended an auction and had no idea what could be sold online.

The company began on a casual note, with Omidyar posting a wrecked laser pointer that he used to entertain his cat, which joyfully ran after the pointer’s red dot.

The opening bid was $1, but after two weeks it was sold for $14.83.

Omidyar sensed something big.

In January 1997, AuctionWeb held 200,000 online auctions, posting 27% growth over the previous year and has never looked back since then.

Progress was exponential with up to 30% more hits on the website.

It was renamed eBay September 1997 with a new look, running on new scalable architecture, meeting the increasing requirements of users. This resulted in $US 48 million in revenue, ten times higher than the previous year.

But someone somewhere had different plans. The new architecture could not sustain the growing attacks of users and computing power for millions of auctions, resulting in frequent outages.

Though the security was at its best, on March 13, 1999 e-bay was hacked by a 22-year college student. He reached to the roots of the computer system and enjoyed all the privileges of a system administrator. He placed fake advertisements, changed prices and even tried to bring the entire network down.

The hacker took down eBay’s home page for two minutes and replaced it with the message, “You cannot always trust people, not even huge companies. It is 9 pm. Do you know who has your credit card information?”

At that time, e-Bay had not followed standard protection schemes and the hacker copied the source code that governs auction and took charge of the Server.

This could happen because E-Bay technicians had not kept up with the latest patches and hence the hacker could intercept the Login and Password.

Following investigations, the hacker finally confessed to the crime in 2004, saying that he had gained unauthorised access and recklessly damaged e-Bay’s computer system. He also admitted penetrating the computer systems of two other multinational companies. The following year he was sentenced to eight months in prison and obliged to pay restitution of $US 268,291.

Phone: 0800-026487 Email: info@makeitsecure.co.nz www.makeitsecure.co.nz

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