"SMALL CAPS ARE OUTPACING THE BIG BOYS." Business Week meant to show a graph of the S&P 500 Index from August 6 through September 10.
"Never mind the shit off to the left," the vandals wrote. "Business Week has been Hacked by Hex and Spin... We would just like to extend the love to all the AOL hackers out there."
"Hex and Spin were here," they wrote in the title bar
The "Try Our Archives" icon and the "Try a Transcript" icon also led to "modified" screens. "Werd to the Shot Down Crew Baby," one read. "We are bringing tha pain to AOL. and mad shout outs to all tha AOL hackers that are freeing the warez."
"Remember You're Owned," it concluded. "Hex and Spin productions."
Two Business Week staffers confirmed that the area was hacked -- one believing that the altered content remained on-line for two hours. Ironically, Business Week bills itself as "the world's best-selling business magazine" -- and given that the attack occured during AOL's prime viewing period, the altered content was probably displayed to many AOL viewers. In the past, "changed" content has remained on-line for many hours, or even days! In one instance, a very subtle alteration lasted nearly two weeks.
In June -- shortly after the first eight attacks -- AOL's "Vice President of Integrity Assurance" came forward. Issuing a memo to AOL's content partners, Tatiana Gau wrote that "AOL takes online security very seriously, and we are committed to providing a safe and secure environment for our partners and members." (Three days later, an AOL children's area displayed profanity-laced messages vandals had scrawled beside images of children playing soccer.)
In the memo, Gau concedes that "AOL isn't immune from online vandals." After urging content partners not to give out their password to strangers, she adds that if their area is compromised, they should try not to talk to anyone in the media!
Gau's cover-up was unsuccessful. Spin Magazine, Business Week, AOL's Digital Cities, and other content areas fell to the vandal on-slaught. Even Gau's memo was leaked -- within hours -- to the very media Gau tried to evade!
AOL still attempts to keep up appearances. The night after the Business Week attack, AOL's exit screen attempted damage control. "Satisfaction and security guaranteed," the sign-off message read, "when you shop at AOL."
Vandals also hit the main screen of the Business Week area. Click here for more images -- and information. Below are some excerpts from the page describing the way vandals changed the text.
Business Week text Hacker text Try a Transcript! You've Been Hacked Try Our Archives Werd to the Shot Down Crew BW Online Daily Briefing AOHell 4 Ever You can't beat the quality
or the price. Seach 40,000 articles free. Get them for a small fee.
Da Shot Down Crew is definitely in the house. West side owns you bitch. Is America ready for Bravos, the lettuce-powered smoke?
CEO memoirs: A look at the latest.
AOHell has touched so many lives. Click here to feel the love.
The Hub (3/31/97) GameWiz (4/4/97) GameWiz (Again!) (4/25/97) FTP sites of several AOL employees (4/26/97 through 4/28/97) The New York Times (4/29/97) AOL Glossary (5/9/97 through 5/23/97) Stats Store (5/17/97 through 5/19/97) Thrive (6/12/97 through 6/13/97) Kids Kicks (6/19/97 through....) Fantasy Realm 6/23/97 through....) Spin magazine (8/10/97) Digital Cities San Diego (8/16/97) Business Week (9/18/97)
In addition, hackers hit AOL's Court TV area last November.