Hong Kong beauties stiffed by hackers' enormous poll attack

Miss HK wannabes 'hosed in web flood'


Fans are furious after the online voting system to pick the next Miss Hong Kong was demolished by hackers, allegedly. The winner of the much-hyped beauty pageant, held on Sunday, was instead decided by a panel of judges.

Broadcaster TVB had been stringing the public along for months with endless TV adverts and pre-pageant shows as the sizeable pool of Miss Hong Kong wannabes was whittled down. Anticipation reached fever pitch.

Sadly, TVB’s first ever attempt to institute a democratic online system to decide on the winner was overwhelmed by data traffic in what appeared to be a massive denial-of-service attack. This led to the judges choosing Carat Cheung Ming-nga as Hong Kong’s representative at next year’s Miss World bikini-fest.

Microsoft, whose Azure platform was used to power TVB's poll, released a statement claiming that although its cloudy product was not affected, there does appear to have been some foul play:

From the findings of the initial investigation, our engineers identified some unusual data traffic targeting the TVB fun application in the operating records of the related voting system. Within the 15-minute voting period, the system already recorded unusual data traffic which was many times higher than the original expectation. This was substantially higher than the total number of people watching the program and also the total population of Hong Kong.

We therefore have grounds to suspect that the application was attacked by malicious hackers, causing abnormal disruption in the operation of the application and thus the subsequent uploading of related data to the cloud system for further processing.

The statement added that personal information stored in the system was not affected by the attack, and that TVB has appointed a third party to investigate further.

The HK Standard suggests Hong Kongers are furious at the judges’ final decision – a certain Tracy Chu Chin-suet was the hot favourite, apparently – and that punters had missed out on the chance to win a Mini Cooper.

You wouldn’t see this sort of thing happening during Strictly. ®

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