Wednesday, August 09, 2006

The Released AOL Search Results

AOL released very private data about its users without their permission. While the AOL username has been changed to a random ID number, the ability to analyze all searches by a single user will often lead people to easily determine who the user is, and what they are up to. The data includes personal names, addresses, social security numbers and everything else someone might type into a search box.

The most serious problem is the fact that many people often search on their own name, or those of their friends and family, to see what information is available about them on the net. Combine these ego searches with porn queries and you have a serious embarrassment. Combine them with “buy ecstasy” and you have evidence of a crime. Combine it with an address, social security number, etc., and you have an identity theft waiting to happen. The possibilities are endless. Those of you who use AOL should be aware of potential identity theft issues.

For a somewhat funny, yet disturbing example of what can be found - I suggest clicking on this link (1 minute slideshow). (warning: contains moderately explicit text in the form of user's web queries, but nothing verbal).

For more information on the breach, click HERE (it's the page from where I copied the first 2 paragraphs).

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