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August 18, 2005

AOL employee sentenced to prison

From WorldNetDaily...

Have you ever wondered how pornographers and sexual chat groups manage to Instant Message you with an invitation to click over to one of their sites?

You can thank Jason Smathers.

The 25-year-old former AOL employee managed to steal 92 million AOL screen names and sell them to a "spammer," according to authorities.

Yeah, right, and AOL's notoriously sloppy security has nothing to do with it? Off and on I've used AOL, and it is ridiculously simply to get people's screen names (which of course, as anyone familiar with AOL knows is the first part of their email address, before the “@aol.com”). The guy didn't cause spam, he just made it a little bit easier. The story continues...

Yesterday, he was sentenced to 15 months in prison after pleading guilty in February to charges including conspiracy and interstate trafficking of stolen property.

He was paid $28,000 by an Internet marketer for the names, which were taken from AOL's database of 30 million subscribers at the time. AOL subscribers can have multiple screen names for each account.

Grabbing email addresses is pretty simple. Quite a while back I wrote some software for doing it, and got almost half-a-million in a few days. (Don't worry, I never sold the software, nor the addresses) It was pretty easy to grab email addresses, which is why I don't have mine listed.

Anyway...if AOL were really concerned about security, they'd do something about the annoying way they allow their users a different IP for every http request. Not only does it really screw up traffic tracking software, but it allows such a high level of anonymity that many sites routinely block all AOL IP's since there is no way to track down spammers or even criminals that use AOL.

Posted by Danny Carlton at August 18, 2005 08:55 AM

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