Exploits Online, AOL-Files.com’s Precursor

Exploits Online was created on February 5, 2000 and put on the web on April 20, 2000, in hopes of providing AOL members with the information they never knew they wanted to know. Exploits will bring you up to date information on AOL exploits and information about the ensuing America Online version 6.0. With so many people on AOL, new exploits are being discovered daily. The goal of Exploits Online is not to harm AOL in any way; just to make it more interesting to its members.

Over the next few months I’m going to work on documenting some of my programming projects. The work, which ranges from about 1998 to the present, will be a portfolio of sorts. It’s not all glamorous and and not all great, but it’s led me to where I am today and for that I’m thankful.

My first website, Exploits Online, was dedicated to hacking America Online. I began it in early 2000 and it eventually evolved into what became AOL-Files. The site was located at ieetfools.com/tau and I’ve uploaded what I have of it here:

Exploits Online Archive

At the time, I was 14, which is both frightening and amazing to me now.  It’s terrifying because that work danced on legal and ethical line. One of the main objectives of our work was to acquire, often by deception, quality screen names. Also, if you check under the Collections link, you’ll see a screenshot titled “Invalid credit card number by Fila”. The screenshot shows Fila, who I don’t remember now, getting an account rejected because the stolen credit card he used had been terminated. A common practice, though one I never participated in, was to steal credit card numbers using phishing techniques and use them to create AOL accounts. The prospect of stealing a credit card number or using a stolen number, thankfully, mortified me.

There’s lot of interesting lines from this site, which I recall now with nostalgia:

This Friday, June 2nd, I will be leave for my dad’s place up in Conneticut and I will be staying there for five weeks.

While at my dad’s place I’m going buy some books on Java, CGI, and the ilk and will learn from them. So, when I have a domain the interface will include menus and some more advanced features than I currently know.

I wish you all the best over the summer and my advice to you is to get out and live your life. I doubt anything will change much while I’m gone. A recent study found out that 34% of teens are on the computer five or more hours a day. Thats scary. All of you into AOL exploits: what is your goal? At first I got into this because I wanted a two character screen name or an indent. But then I thought about it and who cares? It’s a nice thing to brag about but if you think about it, its not that great. I’m cutting back on online time. I started running too. I run one and a half miles a day now. It feels great. So, all of you need to get out; have fun.

That post implies that living life is something entirely distinct from the work we were doing. I realize now that this is not the case. Despite the words, I never really “got out” in the way I meant it there. I vividly recall being at my father’s apartment that summer and writing in a notebook the words for the About section for what would later become AOL-Files.

In fact, on every vacation I’ve been on since then I can remember brainstorming in a notebook about whatever project I was working on at the time. For example, after I graduated in 2007 I went to Europe with some friends… I brought along a book on Two Person Game Theory and probability for a poker bot I was working on. On my honeymoon earlier this year I brought Simply Javascript and Founders at Work. In a week when I go home for Christmas I’m bringing Agile Web Development with Rails, Here Comes Everybody, and Quick LLC. Creation, I have found, is what drives me, but that’s a story for another post.

Looking back at the exploits I wrote about, they range from really, really stupid (see How to Instantly Close AOL) to pretty good (see Screen Name Cloning Tutorial and AOL Class Names Tutorial). And the Thoughts section is a misnomer, since everything there is basically a poorly worded rant.

BMB first contacted me after he saw Exploits Online being advertised in a chat one day. We had common interests and eventually decided to make AOL-Files. Ultimately, that partnership proved to be the most important result that came out of this site.

O0O, a really sharp guy I met through AOL-Files, made a comment in a May 2007 post on Wired regarding a guy I knew well named cam0, who never really grew out of the childish hacking phase (this is the same cam0 that hacked Paris Hilton’s cell phone and LexusNexus). This portion of the post is great, not only because O0O gives BMB and me a head nod six years later (brag), but because it’s the same thing I feel when I hear about people still trying to hack AOL:

Ri, Smokey and whoever else still in the scene that is reading this. This crap aint worth it. At the end of the day you may look back at these days as alot of fun, but that’s only until you get caught or you realize that you wasted time that could have been spent chasing women or drinking beer with buddies.

I left the scene in 2002, I was 20 years old, and I haven’t looked back since then.

Its fun to think about the “good ole” days, but in my time we weren’t fighting over screen names. It was about exploring, information sharing and discovering something no one else knew. You guys sit around all night suspending each other, cracking “3r33t” sns and arguing over who is leeter.

I will tell you right now authoritatively that if your name isn’t one of the people I mentioned in my last post, you are nothing. You won’t be remembered by anyone unless you get arrested. No one cares about AOL or what you can or can not do. You aren’t finding anything new with the service that wasn’t already figured out ten years ago. You’re wasting your time and your effort. If you’re somehow getting a high off having a cat and mouse game with opssec, then God Bless you buddy for having absolutely no life.

Smokey for the record is not out hax0ring the world with BMB/Tau, etc. Ri, I don’t know who you are, based on some of your bad facts you can’t be too old in the scene, but I would hope you dont make AOL your full time hobby. To every other 15 year old reading this, telling a girl you own a 3chr aint going to get you laid.

Hacking the world… gotta love it.

3 thoughts on “Exploits Online, AOL-Files.com’s Precursor

  1. Matt,

    Thank you for an interesting and historic article. We recently purchased the domain “exploitsonline.com” and was happy to learn of the web page’s “genealogy.” Our site will not be up for awhile due to work/time constraints; however, we started a down n’ dirty Google blog to assist us in collecting our thoughts and ideas. It can be found at: http://exploitsonline.blogspot.com/

    We wish you the best on your future projects!
    – Exploits Online (2010)

  2. lol, cant believe i came across this.. how you been bud? thanks for the mention donno if its good or bad lol my aim is: smokey, glad to see your doing good!

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