We’ve done a fair bit of reporting on China’s online train ticket sales system this year, which has been buggy as hell when it’s not busy hating the poor. Since it’s such a hassle to buy a ticket online — it can take hours — specialized software has sprung up online that promises to automate the process for you. Only it turns out that most of this software is stealing your data. Yeah, we’re shocked.
A reporter from the Guangzhou Daily apparently tried ten different ticket-buying software offerings yesterday, and discovered that they do everything from steal your personal ID and banking data to installing trojan viruses on your PC. Ironically, what they don’t do is buy you train tickets; mostly, they just check whether or not tickets are actually available. Which they aren’t.
On the one hand, this is a shame, and it’s likely plenty of people will have to sort out viruses or deal with stolen identity issues because they downloaded some of this software. On the other hand, come on, people! It has only been possible to buy tickets online for a couple weeks; what are the chances that any good software could be developed in such a short time span? And why oh why would you put your ID information and banking data into some random piece of free software you downloaded? Yes, everyone wants to go home for Spring Festival, but that’s no excuse to hand pirates and hackers your bank account on a platter by being dumb.
OK, the official website is a hot mess, but if you’re trying to buy train tickets, you’re just going to have to deal with it. Too-good-to-be-true software solutions are — you guessed it — too good to be true. Also, if you’re still trying to buy tickets home now, you should probably give up. Train and plane tickets for almost every major route are already completely sold out. (Of course, trains and planes aren’t the only way to get home).
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