Hackers upstage beauty pageant in HK
A beauty pageant in Hong Kong turned ugly after hackers disrupted its online voting system last Sunday, a Hong Kong news site reported on Tuesday.
TVB has started probing the incident where the attack targeted the system allowing viewers to send in their votes for the Miss Hong Kong pageant, the Hong Kong Standard said.
Sunday's incident forced a panel of judges to "manually" pick the winner, it added.
Security vendor Sophos said the attack appeared to be a distributed denial of service (DDoS) that knocked the "American Idol"-style voting system offline.
It added the pageant used Microsoft's Azure cloud-based voting system.
"The incident was a black eye for Microsoft, as well. That company partnered with TVB, lending its Azure cloud based infrastructure to host the voting system. Outraged viewers also left comments on TVB's webpage, castigating the station for its mistake, for its reliance on Microsoft and – not least – for picking the wrong gal," it added.
The Hong Kong Standard quoted a Microsoft spokesman as saying their initial investigation showed millions of page-hits during the pageant, suggesting an attack by hackers.
Microsoft had provided technical support for TVB for the event.
TVB's deputy director for foreign affairs Tsang Sing-ming apologized for the incident, claiming the station expected 500,000 viewers to vote during a 10-minute period.
But Tsang said the traffic overloaded the server.
The report quoted TVB general manager Cheong Shin-keong as saying the station will hire an independent consultant to analyze the data before deciding whether to bring the matter to the police.
Cheong added the excessive number of hits appeared to be "deliberately made."
With the online voting junked, a panel of judges chose Carat Cheung Ming-nga, who was earlier named Miss International Goodwill, as Miss Hong Kong. She will compete for the Miss World title next year.
The report said Tracy Chu Chin-suet, considered a favorite to win the Miss Hong Kong title, landed second runner-up.
But Carat Cheung is confident she would have won if the online voting had worked. "I think I would still have won," she said.
For her part, Chu said the judging was fair and she was happy to come in the top three.
The Hong Kong Standard report said Hong Kong's Communications Authority was flooded with more than 447 complaints Monday, questioning the pageant's results.
It quoted an authority spokesman as saying the body will handle the complaints.
Also, TVB had announced it would give away a Mini Cooper to a randomly selected voter, but no one was picked because of the server crash.
"We will announce another contest related to the pageant for the viewers in a couple of days to give away the prize," Tsang said, adding the new contest "will be launched within two weeks." — TJD, GMA News