The Truth About America Online
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Thread: The Truth About America Online

  1. #1

    The Truth About America Online

    America Online, also known as AOL, is currently the most popular Internet service provider (ISP) in the world. The CEO, Steve Case, has created a service second to none. AOL was first presented to our country in 1985. At this time, the online population was no more than 500,000 persons. Now, in the year 2001, AOL has over 31 million customers worldwide and consumes 40% of the Internet population. The closest company, still a distant second, is the Earthlink Network with roughly 10 million customers. AOL has become very popular because of its easy-to-use interface and it's acclaimed instant messaging system including buddy lists. AOL's users are able to visit the World Wide Web, while easily accessing both their e-mail accounts and their buddy lists full of online friends. Chatting online is also popular to those seeking entertainment. AOL has hundreds of public rooms along with an endless amount of lobbies for users to enjoy. How can this possibly be a bad thing? Well, with all of the positives, come the negatives.

    AOL users are subject to mass amounts of spam e-mails daily and are often lured into falsely giving their credit info out to online predators. These predators are responsible for a good portion of Internet crimes committed today. AOL does not let its users see this though. These unsuspecting victims are in the dark. There is a world on AOL that the public is not shown, simply because the representatives at AOL do not want to lose any of their valuable revenue. The workers at AOL offices nationwide are constantly fighting "hackers" in their systems. Hundreds of hackers, generally between the ages of 13-16, attempt to bring AOL down on a daily basis. The actions of these hackers are never presented to anyone. AOL only attempts to make their service "child-proof." This is laughable. There are always stories on the news about children being deceived over the Internet and then molested by some 30-year-old man posing as a schoolgirl. However, there are not stories of the constant server problems and the exposing of personal info to thousands of users. AOL simply cares for the bottom line. As long as the financial report at the end of the year is black, then all is well. AOL is only as user friendly as that bottom line. AOL users are subject to hundreds of spam e-mails daily. What is contained in these e-mails? Often it is a link to pornographical content. This is commonplace to any AOLer. How do these e-mails get to your inbox everyday? These e-mails are sent by the same hackers attempting to bring AOL down. Programmers, generally kids, create programs in Microsoft's Visual Basic that use AOL's client to complete a certain task. One of the most common types of programs is called a "spammer." A spammer, simply put, collects names from different chat rooms, creates a list, and sends them the same message in e-mail. In one night's work, a spammer can "spam" as many as 200,000 users, if not more. Most of the so-called hackers that use AOL's client to their advantage simply want money. That is why links to pornographical sites are sent. If a user clicks this link, it takes them to a site where they can generally sign up for a membership at a porn site. If they sign up, the hacker that sent this mail gets a referral. This referral is worth anywhere from $25-50 depending on the company. Companies such as Maximum Cash (http://www.maximumcash.com) pay Joe Bob a fixed amount of money for every signup he can generate for them. He is getting a portion of the money that they receive. Porn isn't the only thing that can be found in a common AOL user's mailbox. There are also scams. These scams surfaced about 5 or 6 years ago. The message contained in these e-mails is generally one telling the user that his or her billing info is incorrect and it needs to be updated. The link included is to a false site created by this spammer. These sites look very authentic. An unsuspecting user would believe that this is actually a site created by AOL. This user then inputs his or her billing information and is directed off to AOL's official site in most cases. Behind the scenes, this information was just sent to an e-mail account of the hacker pulling off this scam. He now has a fresh credit card at his disposal.

    Paying customers of AOL are also subject to having their password stolen or cracked. This is another one of AOL's recurring problem. This problem has subsided over the years because these hackers simply cannot be bothered any longer. At the height of this problem, a hacker could claim about twenty accounts in one day's work. The password stealer (PWS) is also sent via e-mail to the victim. The PWS is masked, and upon opening, a small file is embedded into the computer's system. Usually, the PWS is masked as a picture file or an executing program. PWS have evolved over the years. Programmers have created much more efficient programs. Programmers also create programs called "Password crackers." These programs are simple. Generally, they are designed for the lower clients such as versions 2.5 and 3.0. These programs collect names just as the spammers, and then they sign on as guest attempting a screen name and password combination. This is a very long and drawn out process and has also faded away. AOL hackers have become lazy. The most common method of acquiring an AOL account is to simply "card" one. "Carding" is a term created by hackers meaning to falsely use credit card information to purchase something, such as an AOL account. Carding AOL accounts is extremely common and is rarely looked into by AOL. It is very difficult to get caught for this crime, though punishment is rather severe. AOL would rather simply cancel the account (when the card owner realizes his or her credit card has been stolen) than look into it. It is impossible for AOL to catch any of these hackers. There are just too many users for them to keep track of every single one.

    A final problem with AOL affects virtually no one, and is extremely secret. This problem involves the "holes" in AOL's software. Hackers spend hours a day trying to find loopholes in the coding. When they do, the possibilities are endless. Just recently, a hacker found out a way to create any screen name he wanted using FreeAOL (http://www.free.aol.com). The trick was simple. There was a java script set up on this site that monitored screen names entered. This script scanned possible names and checked availability while also making sure the names were "clean." A clean name is defined as a screen name that does not use any restricted prefixes (HOST names) or any vulgar language. Well, guess what happens when this script is removed? That's right. There is no scanning and it's no holds barred on creating screen names. Any name created with the HOST prefix gets host privileges. Hosts are given certain commands that enable them to keep AOL a "safe" place. When these host names get into the wrong hands, the turnout is not good. This also opened the doors to names such as "****You." Names similar to this were floating around on AOL for days after this exploit had been fixed. This is just one of the many problems that AOL has encountered. That particular loophole was good for about 2 or 3 days. AOL finally realized there was a problem and fixed it. Reaction time on most of the loopholes is usually around 3 days. When AOL encounters problems with spamming, how does it react? The most common update is to release a new client. Client version 4.0 was one of the most stable, but it was soon replaced with version 5.0. Version 5.0 has almost an identical interface and runs just about the same. The difference is the POP mail servers. Back when PWS were common, POP mail servers was used to send the password information to the hacker's mailbox. After AOL finally realized what was happening, it was forced to update their client. Version 5.0 was not nearly complete, but it had to be released. The POP mail servers were removed from version 4.0, and a new welcome screen with integrated channels was added, and version 5.0 was complete. AOL is currently designing client version 7.0. Version 6.0 is not complete and still has many bugs that need to be fixed.

    In conclusion, America Online is probably the world's number one misleading ISP. The executives there do their best to keep the problems they are having underground. If any of this information leaked out to the public, there would be a strong fan base to rid the world of AOL entirely. Users lack common sense. That is the reason they are using AOL in the first place. AOL does not filter any of its e-mails. It would be simple for them to filter incoming messages and stopping repeated ones from sending. There are, however, just too many users and not enough personnel. AOL is constantly a topic of conversation among many websites. Information regarding current events in AOL news is posted daily (http://www.observers.net, http://www.inside-aol.com). AOL users are unsuspecting victims. They do not realize that there are online terrorists all over the world trying to get their credit card information in order to use it illegally. America Online: so easy to use, it's no wonder they're number one.

  2. #2
    Just a Virtualized Geek MrLinus's Avatar
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    http://somekid.com/txtz/127.php <-- Source.

    Threads moved to General Chit Chat. Not really a funny.
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  3. #3
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    AOL users are subject to mass amounts of spam e-mails daily and are often lured into falsely giving their credit info out to online predators.
    Depends how dumb the person is.

    The workers at AOL offices nationwide are constantly fighting "hackers" in their systems. Hundreds of hackers, generally between the ages of 13-16, attempt to bring AOL down on a daily basis.
    You can have that in any system.

    AOL users are subject to hundreds of spam e-mails daily.
    I swear to go i didnt recieve a spam mail in months. Firstly because i dont go into public AOL chatrooms. Secondly if everyone had a bit common sense they wouldnt be using they "important" e-mial adress in every website registration.

    These sites look very authentic. An unsuspecting user would believe that this is actually a site created by AOL. This user then inputs his or her billing information and is directed off to AOL's official site in most cases.
    again, thats why people should get informed of thse methods. It is not up to AOL to stop these. Those can be used to attack yahoo, MSN, hotmail and other services too.

    Paying customers of AOL are also subject to having their password stolen or cracked. This is another one of AOL's recurring problem.
    Every password can be cracked, not just AOL's.

    The source is blah. I dont even want to bother to reply to the rest. Yes i use AOL.(6 more months). But this is just non-sense.

  4. #4
    Senior Member
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    I agree with you that AOL is a vile ISP, but a lot of your points are problems that face all online companies. AOL is a large company so it may get more activity such as how viruses tend to threaten microsoft more often than linux.

    AOL Rants:

    I've attempted to buy third row concert tickets on AOL only to be kicked off and end up with seats in the far back section !

    I've spent hours at a time sitting at a computer trying to connect to AOL

    I've been disconnected and unable to reconnect when attempting to talk a friend (who i could only contact online) down from suicide !

    thankfully the dark ages passed for me years ago when I grew to the age of selecting my own ISP
    A mind full of questions has no room for answers

  5. #5
    AO Decepticon CXGJarrod's Avatar
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    The workers at AOL offices nationwide are constantly fighting "hackers" in their systems. Hundreds of hackers, generally between the ages of 13-16, attempt to bring AOL down on a daily basis.
    This is the result of lamer movies like "Hackers" and "Swordfish." Kids watch the eye candy programs and think it might be cool to hack.
    N00b> STFU i r teh 1337 (english: You must be mistaken, good sir or madam. I believe myself to be quite a good player. On an unrelated matter, I also apparently enjoy math.)

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