Techno-vandals breached AOL's security September 27, and altered text on a screen for AOL's MoneyWhiz area.
"Who's to blame?" became "Is AOL shitty or what?"
"Women need more money" became "Do you think AOL sucks."
They identified their work as a "Hex and Spin production." Hex and Spin also took credit for last week's successful attack on AOL's Business Week area. ("Never mind the shit off to the left," the vandals wrote. "Business Week h as been Hacked by Hex and Spin...")
MoneyWhiz staffers spent 20 minutes scrambling to cover the profanity-laced grafitti. The paragraph asking who was to blame "for the high rate of credit card delinquencies and record bankruptcies" now read "Werd to THE END you lame bitches haha! & NEK." At the end of the page, the attackers announced plans to continue their assaults. "Ke ep a look out for more Hax and Spin productions...."
In the Business Week attack -- nine days earlier -- they wrote "Hex and Spin were here," in a Business Week title bar. Again signing the names "Hex" and "Spin," they altered every piece of text beside the welcome menu's four red bullets. Ironically, the security breach occurred directly across from an ad pro mising on-line banking. "No brick, no mortar, no hassles...."
Unlike earlier incidents, "Spin" and "Hex" apparently confined their work to a single scream. In the Business Week attack, the "Try Our Archives" icon and the "Try a Transcript" icon led to screens which had also been altered. The most recent inc ident was over relatively qucikly. In the past, "changed" content has remained on-line for many hours, or even days!
In a stunning bit of irony, AOL's MoneyWhiz editor found herself apologizing for the profanity which appeared on the site -- just as AOL faced charges of censor-happy policy from MSNBC columnist Brock Meeks. "CEO Steve Case and his company are acting unilaterally as the moral arbiters of the 8 million-plus people who use the service..." Meeks wrote. "It's as if Case were unable to distinguish the First Amendment principles of t he U.S. Constitution from that of Singapore or the People╠s Republic of China." AOL may have a prohibition on profanity -- but they're having trouble enforcing it!
In fact, a similar backfire hit AOL's recent crackdown on a controversial web page. The page promoted author Sondra London's interviews with convicted serial killers -- and AOL removed it after complaints from victims' rights activists. AOL argued that they were exercising their right to dissociate themselves from content they find objectionable.
Legally, AOL does have the right to establish a prohibition of profanity on their service if they so choose. But if nothing else, recent events show they're having difficulty enforcing it.
(For comparison purposes, the same area once it was repaired!)
Other Recent Hacks
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) MoneyWhiz (9/27/97)
In addition, hackers hit AOL's Court TV area last November.