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Cybersecurity

Ctrip blames 'human error', not hackers, for 12 hour drop in service

PUBLISHED : Friday, 29 May, 2015, 4:55pm
UPDATED : Friday, 29 May, 2015, 4:55pm

A 12 hour breakdown in service was the result of employee error, not hackers, China's leading online travel agent Ctrip said on Friday.

Speaking to Chinese news portal Sina, the company said that the breakdown was caused by an engineer accidentally deleting "critical lines of code" from its production server.

The company's website and app were inaccessible from around 11am on Thursday, making it impossible for users to book flights and hotels or see existing bookings.

Earlier, the company had blamed hackers for the drop in service. Spokesman Shi Kaifeng told the South China Morning Post that customer data was safe after a hack attack which began early on Thursday morning.

According to the company's first quarter profit data, the outage may have cost it upwards of US$1 million per hour.

Shares in Nasdaq-listed Ctrip fell on Thursday, plunging 20 per cent in pre-opening trading, but soon returned to normal as service was restored.

The company's stock price was buoyed last week by news that US-based travel group Priceline plans to spend US$250 million to increase its stake in Ctrip to around 10.5 per cent.

Earlier this month, Ctrip bought a 37.6 per cent stake in domestic rival eLong from Expedia for US$400 million.

During its service outage, a message on Ctrip's website directed customers to eLong, though Chinese media reported that the traffic surge this sent to the smaller company caused it problems of its own.