She stole my man so I broke into her Hotmail account.
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From: Peter Langston <psl>
Date: Thu, 2 Sep 99 13:31:23 -0700
Subject: She stole my man so I broke into her Hotmail account.
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The green-eyed hacker: I had 20 years and 20 pounds on her and she stole my
man. So on Monday I broke into her Hotmail account
When a Hotmail security breach exposed e-mail inboxes, I spied on a rival
and learned more than I wanted to know.
By "Lily Black"
Sept. 2, 1999 | On Monday morning, a headline about the now-infamous hole
in Hotmail stopped me in my tracks. Within three minutes of reading about
it on the CNN site, I found the magic code at Slashdot.org, pasted the
script into my browser and substituted the phrase "ENTERLOGINHERE" with a
Hotmail user name.
(Microsoft's spinmeisters told reporters that trespassers were accessing
Hotmail accounts "through specific knowledge of advanced Web development
languages." Far from being a sophisticated hacker, I'm a middle-aged boomer
chick whose closest brush with code prior to this had been writing
I hit "Enter" and seconds later my arch-enemy's Hotmail inbox appeared in
Early this summer I had gone East to hang out with some longtime buddies
from the mother of all incestuous mailing lists. At a reunion the year
before I'd had a passionate encounter with a list member named Tom. We had
a moderately sweaty reunion the night I got there this summer as well.
But this year the list's new coquette, Ashley, was there too. She was in
her mid-20s, unemployed and had been slacking in Prague. I'd already
suffered her "self-obsessed petulant unemployed list-babe" persona
electronically. She was blonde and pretty. When we met in June, we exchanged
fake smiles and went on our ways. Then she put the moves on Tom.
He ditched me faster than Microsoft can duck bad press. I had 20 lbs. and
20 years on her and yeah, I was pissed. Worse, this was a touchy-feely
mailing list and I was under pressure to "be evolved." Although I'd never
had strong romantic feelings for Tom, my ego was a tad purple around the
edges. The replaced-by-a-young-babe thing made me feel old.
Back home, I immersed myself in enjoyable solo pursuits. Through the
e-grapevine and Tom's giddy posts full of smiley emoticons, I heard of
astronomical phone bills and continued romance. Ashley announced their
August rendezvous to the list: "While I'm on the road, you can reach me
through my Hotmail account."
Face to face with Ashley's inbox, at first I felt euphoric. I tore through
her e-mail, finding a scathing letter from a bitter ex-boyfriend, who laid
claim to betrayal and money owed him. I poked around a folder of love notes
exchanged with another man, also a member of the mailing list, and saw plans
for an impending tryst. And I found overtures from Ashley to another
half-dozen guys, usually including a phrase along the lines of, "I must be
honest with you: I find you very attractive."
But then something happened: I started feeling sorry. Sorry for her for
being in her 20s and for having had her personal e-mail exposed. Sorry for
the guys she was playing like a Stradivarius. Sorry for myself that I'd ever
been jealous of her.
When the hole in Hotmail was closed about 40 minutes later, I felt sickened
by suddenly having way too much info. I thought of John Cheever's short
story "The Enormous Radio," about the high-strung housewife who becomes
obsessed with listening to her neighbors' private conversations.
Worst of all, I felt saddened by the speed with which I'd committed an
ethical lapse, given the opportunity. I was guilty of a moral felony, if
not a legal one. And yet I'd been amped during the experience; for a while
I had wallowed in the power and glory of a successful hack.
Late Monday, Microsoft continued to downplay the Hotmail hack in a statement
published by Reuters: "We're hoping that because we jumped on it so quickly
no one was affected."
salon.com | Sept. 2, 1999
About the writer:
"Lily Black" is a pseudonym.
© 1999 Peter Langston