$8 million government system "hacked" by Chinese primary school kids to play games


Recently, Chinese internet user “Xuanyuan Xiang” began noticing something strange whenever he walked past one of the government-installed automated car rental kiosks in Ningbo. The kiosk was surrounded by primary school kids, and whenever anyone tried to get close, they’d hold their arms up and block the screen so that you couldn’t see what was happening.

“Xuanyuan Xiang” walked by the kiosk frequently, and eventually it became clear that the kids were playing games on the machine. He was puzzled: had games really been added to this government-installed rental kiosk? He took some photos and posted them to the web, where they quickly went viral.

(See: Parents: THIS is how you deal with your child playing too many video games)

The answer, it turns out, is no: games were not an intended feature of the automated kiosk. Instead, these primary school students had managed to hack the system—which reportedly cost the city of Ningbo RMB 50 million (more than $8 million)—by themselves and get access to some games.

The “hacking” wasn’t actually very complicated: the touchscreen automated kiosks are basically just computers, and they were connected to the regular internet rather than a separate network, so getting access to web games was probably only a matter of figuring out how to input the right address.

(See: Chinese couple sells their children to traffickers, uses the money to buy in-game items)

Still, many Chinese commenters worried that while the gaming was fairly innocuous, the system could be exploited by criminals with more nefarious purposes in mind. The company responsible for the kiosks has already announced that it will be working “as quickly as possible” to rectify the problem, but that the kiosks would remain operational in the meantime. The company did not comment on how the exploit occurred, or whether or not it might raise other concerns about users’ data security.

This might be bad news for the Ningbo kiosk company, but it’s great to see young gamers finding creative ways to play, even if what they did might have been a little illegal. Who can blame them? Rental consoles are boring; video games are much more fun.

(via Sina Games)

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