SkyLounge e-mail server hacked, journos get spammed

SkyLounge, an online service for business travelers, says it hasresolved an attack on its servers that resulted in an unknown number ofusers receiving messages purporting to be from the site.

The company’s founder believes the annoyance has resulted in him being “the most hated man in North America.”

ANetwork World Canada reporter received messages from 16 people between4:50 pm Monday and 9:08 am Tuesday asking to unsubscribe from anunspecified service from Dover, Delaware-based SkyLounge. The reporterwas not CCd on the messages but was apparently part of an automatedmailing list. A colleague at IT World Canada described a similarexperience. Neither of the reporters had signed up asking to be on aSkyLounge mailing list.

SkyLounge’s founder, Marcel vanGemerden, said none of his members were affected and he believes ahacker broke into his e-mail account.

“They broke into system,they sent out a message to about 2,000 people and they uploaded a pageon to our server where they could remove themselves from the list,” VanGemerden said, adding it seems to have affected mainly journalists inthe U.S.

“So when people clicked on the link and went to thepage on our site, they put in their e-mail address and thenautomatically, everybody that was on that list got a message from thatperson saying ‘Remove me.’ So now you have all the journalists replyingto each other saying, ‘What do you mean remove me? I didn’t send you amessage at all.’ So they were having arguments between them and we’regetting 70 calls per hour and a whole lot of e-mails.”

VanGemerden said SkyLounge has removed the server that allows members tosend messages to each other. He added during the last five days,SkyLounge staff noticed unusual activity from “IP addresses that didnot make sense.” Then the internal email stopped working and he wasprompted to re-enter his password.

“I think they broke into my personal email address,” he said. “They found the code somewhere.”

SkyLounge’sdescribes itself as a “network that connects business travelers” andincludes information on flights and destinations.

Van Gemerdensaid none of SkyLounge’s members were affected but he does not know whoreceived the [collapse]original message from the hackers.

“We’re trying to retrieve it and see (to whom it) was sent and find out if we can send out an apology e-mail afterwards.”

He added he believes he is “the most hated man in North America right now.” [/collapse]

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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