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Computing

Business manager linked to prostitute through Hotmail hole

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September 3, 1999
Web posted at: 12:49 p.m. EDT (1649 GMT)

(CNN) -- A Swedish business manager was exposed as contacting a prostitute as a result of a breach on Microsoft's Hotmail service that made it possible for anyone to read his e-mail or that of any Hotmail client, it was reported Friday.

Microsoft shut down its Hotmail e-mail system for about two hours Monday morning after discovering the flaw. The company closed the breach and another that occurred later in the day by late afternoon.

In the mean time, someone read mail on an account belonging to two young Swedish prostitutes.

The letters were published for anyone to read on an anonymous Web site on an American server. The names and telephone numbers of several clients were included, according to the Swedish newspaper Expressen.

The business manager of a well-known Swedish media company was among the letter writers.

"I am seriously interested in learning French from you on a regular basis," his letter read. "Please give me more information about your lessons, it would also be nice if you could attach a picture of the study plan."

Microsoft released a statement that blamed hackers.

"It's unfortunate that hackers chose to exploit the security vulnerability and put users' security at risk rather than notifying Microsoft immediately to fix the problem," the statement read.

When the Swedish newspaper contacted the business manager, he already knew that his name and telephone number had been published on the Web site.

"This is nasty, and I understand that this can lead to rumors," he said.

He maintains that he never paid for sex with the prostitutes.

"I just wanted to know if they really were prostitutes," he said.

Other unpleasant scenarios

Computer users posting messages on the Slashdot Web site, a site popular among computer and Internet specialists, offered other frightening or painful scenarios during the heat of the Hotmail breach Monday.

One suggested "cracking e-mail accounts for fun," such as those used by Bill Gates, members of Congress, television anchors and Monica Lewinsky.

Another mentioned a more sobering experience -- he snooped into his girlfriend's email.

"Well ... that puts you in perspective, I guess," read a post by 'Anonymous Coward.' "Never trust women!!! As if I didn't know it ... but somehow I wanted to believe she was different."


SPECIAL SECTION:
Insurgency on the Internet

RELATED STORIES:
Hotmail exodus: to where?
September 1, 1999
Expert: Hotmail hole likely started in Sweden
August 31, 1999
Status of Hotmail privacy unclear
August 30, 1999
E-commerce encryption now vulnerable?
August 30, 1999
Total digital privacy may be on the horizon
August 18, 1999
Hackers, IT consultants embrace free security tool
August 13, 1999
Microsoft says "crack this!"
August 6, 1999

RELATED SITES:
Microsoft
Hotmail
EXPRESSEN.SE
Slashdot
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