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Hackers to break AOL's heart on Fri.



Hackers to break AOL's heart on Fri.

By MARY HUHN


America Online is gearing up to combat a potential St. Valentine's Day
massacre.

AOL hackers, fed up with AOL busy signals, have been passing an e-mail
message over the commercial on-line network hoping to instigate an AOL riot
on Valentine's Day at 9 p.m.

AOL says it will staff its Community Action Team on Friday night to aid the
battle against the hackers, who are expected to disturb the chat rooms with
scrolling and other TOS (terms of service) violations.

Scrolling refers to sending words into a chat room in such quick succession
that they scroll up on the screen so fast they're unreadable. Another
tactic is to send e-mail bombs, which fill up users' mailboxes.

"While we're prepared in the case of hacker activity, we expect it to
fizzle out and be a non-event," says Andrew Graziani, an spokesperson for
the 8-million member online service. "Past experience has told us that the
hype is bigger than the event."

The e-mail message, which was sent to hackers as well as AOL members being
warned not to sign on, said in part, "All hackers on AOL are planning a
riot. That means they will go into all lobbies and TOS everyone (get their
accounts canceled) and will totally clear out all of the lobbies. There
will at least be 150 hackers rioting. So beware and don't sign on. And
don't spread the word because it is the only way to be able to sign on
again with no busy signal, (signed) Hacker."

David Cassel, an AOL activist who witnessed an AOL riot in 1995, received a
copy of the e-mail.

"Hundreds of people will act up in the chat rooms," he says. "To do any
real damage you need specialized equipment. However, I've seen signs that
people have specialized equipment."

Cassel says there's plenty of home-grown software, such as AOHell, designed
to mess up AOL.

"The perception of a hacker riot is almost as damaging as an hacker riot,"
says Cassel.

It's almost impossible for a virus to enter a computer through e-mail. But,
Graziani says, users shouldn't download files attached to suspicious e-mail
addresses.


Copyright 1996, N.Y.P. Holdings Inc.

Regards,
Chris