Alibaba fires four cybersecurity employees after hacking its system to hoard mooncakes

Alibaba's Mooncakes | via China Daily

China's mid-autumn festival officially started yesterday, which is a harvest festival celebrated every 15th day of the 8th month of the lunar calendar, with a full moon at night. The celebration is commemorated with the consumption of cassia wine, as well as their specialty, mooncakes.

Mooncakes are round pastries filled with lotus seed paste or red bean paste which is surrounded by a thin crust, and at times may contain yolks from salted duck eggs. Traditionally given as gifts by businesses, the pastry also has a very high demand from people. This is what probably led four security employees at Alibaba, a Chinese e-commerce firm, to hack into the company's systems to get themselves more of the tasty stuff.

Normally, as the festival approaches, Alibaba offers one free box of mooncake per employee, which includes a plush toy of an Alibaba mascot inside of it. Should employees want more mooncakes for their families and friends, they can order additional boxes at a cost through the company's internal page. However, according to a report by China Daily, the four workers were caught inserting additional software onto the ordering system, hoarding 124 boxes of mooncakes for themselves. This then led towards them getting the pink slip from the company.

One of the alleged hackers opened up on Zhihu, a question-and-answer website. He claimed that he had been unable to buy a cake on Alibaba's internal website, so he created his own "plug-in" to hack into the system and get free mooncakes. This was after he reportedly found out that others were doing the same.

While he was busy doing other work, he found out that the trick was able to order 16 boxes of mooncakes for him. However, within two hours, his act was caught by the corporate security, which quickly led to his termination.

"This is the fastest dismissal I have ever experienced," he wrote. "It may also rank high on the list for goofballs."

Alibaba defended its move, saying that the decision was due to the four employees "touching the bottom line of integrity," which caused "unfairness in welfare distribution" among its employees.

Source: China Daily via Ars Technica

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