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  • AOL Releases Search Engine Data

    From the Goons at Something Awful:
    http://www.gregsadetsky.com/aol-data/

    AOL releases about 20 million web queries. 650k users, with their AOL IDs replaced with numeric data.

    Wonder how your search terms are doing? Wonder what people are looking for? Its rather fascinating and a good forensic investigation tool.

    I'm currently downloading it, anyone have any terms they want me to search for?
    Some Kind of Commando Leader

    "Every time I see another crazy Florida post, I'm glad I don't work there." ~ Minneapolis Security on Florida Security Law

  • #2
    People going through it have already identifed people's names, addresses, workplaces, social security numbers, etc...

    AOL screwed up big.
    Some Kind of Commando Leader

    "Every time I see another crazy Florida post, I'm glad I don't work there." ~ Minneapolis Security on Florida Security Law

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    • #3
      So AOL screwed up and allowed access to their customers files and personal info. I went to that site and it didnt make much sense to me, of course I am not a programing guru, so I wasnt sure what I was looking at. It did want me to download something, but I refused it, as I wasnt sure to what it was!
      Deputy Sheriff

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      • #4
        They are text files. A set of 10 text files. 36 million "web queries." Basically, one of them looks like this.

        <randomnumber representing user> <search string> <date> <website returned>

        The huge problem with this, and what's worse is that there's a massive security breach now for some AOL users, is that the search data isn't anonymous.

        People are searching the data for keywords, then when they find a user that looks interesting (the random number replaces an AOL account ID, but is the same for every search the user does), searches for all the entries that the user made.

        A great example is:

        0000000 212-555-1212 Some Date http://www.whowhere.com
        0000000 Bob Jones Some Date ~
        0000000 Robert Jones Some Date ~
        0000000 000-00-0000 Some Date ~
        0000000 Embarressing_Search_String Some Date http://www.****site.com
        0000000 where is a subway near broadway and some street Some Date http://www.subway.com

        Amplify this by 650,000 people. The invasion of privacy is staggeringly huge, but worse - this is the kind of data that search analyitics really wants.
        Some Kind of Commando Leader

        "Every time I see another crazy Florida post, I'm glad I don't work there." ~ Minneapolis Security on Florida Security Law

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by N. A. Corbier
          They are text files. A set of 10 text files. 36 million "web queries." Basically, one of them looks like this.

          <randomnumber representing user> <search string> <date> <website returned>

          The huge problem with this, and what's worse is that there's a massive security breach now for some AOL users, is that the search data isn't anonymous.

          People are searching the data for keywords, then when they find a user that looks interesting (the random number replaces an AOL account ID, but is the same for every search the user does), searches for all the entries that the user made.

          A great example is:

          0000000 212-555-1212 Some Date http://www.whowhere.com
          0000000 Bob Jones Some Date ~
          0000000 Robert Jones Some Date ~
          0000000 000-00-0000 Some Date ~
          0000000 Embarressing_Search_String Some Date http://www.****site.com
          0000000 where is a subway near broadway and some street Some Date http://www.subway.com

          Amplify this by 650,000 people. The invasion of privacy is staggeringly huge, but worse - this is the kind of data that search analyitics really wants.
          Nathan:
          AOL is a typical example of apathy brought to the extreme. A contractor for VA just had a desktop computer stolen from within the "secured" building. On my surveys, I have repeated written that specific policies and protective measures be implemented as soon as possible. In some cases, I've used the term "with all deliberate speed."
          Nathan, the most common excuse I was given was, "Mr. Warnock, be realistic, do you realize just how much money would be involved were we to implement your recommendations?" Tell me how much money are they spending to correct all the theft problems?
          Nathan, in many instances, the federal government is responsible for this mess in that they will neither mandate rules or reimburse the contractor for expenditures.
          Enjoy the day,
          Bill

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          • #6
            Yep. I've been grepping the data looking for interesting things. I hear the Goons at Something Awful have been coming up with HUGE amounts of fascinating data. Mostly for enjoyment purposes.

            The search queries tell stories. Relationships, what houses people are looking to buy, relocations, cheating spouses, names, dates, SSNs, phone numbers, you name it.

            I understand there's 1.5MB of phone numbers in the data. That's 1.5 Megabytes of ASCII text. That's hundreds of thousands.
            Some Kind of Commando Leader

            "Every time I see another crazy Florida post, I'm glad I don't work there." ~ Minneapolis Security on Florida Security Law

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            • #7
              I understand now... Being that I am not up to internet speed, and the privacy issues within, I can see why this is a data loss issue. I cant believe that one of the first Internet providers have allowed this to happen.

              Or, I guess, you take a set of dedicated people, that have nothing else to do, but search for these types of leaks, and thrive on it, its gonna happen! Wow!
              Deputy Sheriff

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              • #8
                They found the first person from the AOL search records. A 60+ year old woman in Georgia.

                http://www.nytimes.com/2006/08/09/te...gewanted=print

                The New York Times covered it. She's cancelling her AOL account, btw.
                Some Kind of Commando Leader

                "Every time I see another crazy Florida post, I'm glad I don't work there." ~ Minneapolis Security on Florida Security Law

                Comment

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