Alibaba fires employees for hacking their way to free mooncakes
China’s Mid-Autumn Festival started today, as much of the world now knows due to a runaway inflatable moon incident reported yesterday (as seen below). Celebrated on the 15th day of the eighth month in the Han calendar—corresponding to the full moon closest to the Autumnal Equinox—the holiday is commemorated in Chinese culture through the exchange and sharing of moon cakes.
The cakes are round pastries filled with lotus seed paste or red bean paste and occasionally the salted yolk of a duck egg surrounded by a thin crust. They are traditionally given as presents by businesses and are in huge demand in much of China and in Chinese communities around the world leading up to the festival. And that’s likely what drove four employees of the Chinese e-commerce site Alibaba to exploit a weakness in an internal company website offering discounted mooncakes to company staff.
Alibaba offered its employees one free mooncake each—complete with a plush Alibaba mascot hidden inside, rather than the traditional duck yolk. Additional cakes were sold at cost to employees for friends and family through an internal e-commerce page. But as China Daily reports, the four employees—software engineers at the company—were able to surreptitiously insert additional software into the website, directing extra mooncakes to themselves. Alibaba’s internal security team detected the hack and found that the four were “cheating using technology” to amass 124 boxes of the cakes (with four cakes per box). All four employees were dismissed.
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