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Apr 28th 2014

AOL Security Update

At AOL, we care deeply about the safety and security of your online experience. We are writing to notify you that AOL is investigating a security incident that involved unauthorized access to AOL's network and systems. AOL is working with best-in-class external forensic experts and federal authorities to investigate this serious criminal activity.

AOL's investigation began immediately following a significant increase in the amount of spam appearing as "spoofed emails" from AOL Mail addresses. Spoofing is a tactic used by spammers to make it appear that the message is from an email user known to the recipient in order to trick the recipient into opening it. These emails do not originate from the sender's email or email service provider - the addresses are just edited to make them appear that way.

AOL's investigation is still underway, however, we have determined that there was unauthorized access to information regarding a significant number of user accounts. This information included AOL users' email addresses, postal addresses, address book contact information, encrypted passwords and encrypted answers to security questions that we ask when a user resets his or her password, as well as certain employee information. We believe that spammers have used this contact information to send spoofed emails that appeared to come from roughly 2% of our email accounts.

Importantly, we have no indication that the encryption on the passwords or the answers to security questions was broken. In addition, at this point in the investigation, there is no indication that this incident resulted in disclosure of users' financial information, including debit and credit cards, which is also fully encrypted.

Although there is no indication that the encryption on the passwords or answers to security questions was broken, as a precautionary measure, we nevertheless strongly encourage our users and employees to reset their passwords used for any AOL service and, when doing so, also to change their security question and answer.

The ongoing investigation of this serious criminal activity is our top priority. We are working closely with federal authorities to pursue this investigation to its resolution. Our security team has put enhanced protective measures in place and we urge our users to take proactive steps to help ensure the security of their accounts.

AOL is notifying potentially affected users and is committed to ensuring the protection of its users, employees and partners and addressing the situation as quickly and forcefully as we can.

In addition, there are steps you can take to protect yourself from cyber risks. They include:

  • If you receive a suspicious email, do not respond or click on any links or attachments in the email.
  • When in doubt about the authenticity of an email you have received, contact the sender to confirm that he or she actually sent it.
  • Never provide personal or financial information in an email to someone you do not know. AOL will never ask you for your password or any other sensitive personal information over email.
  • If you believe you are a victim of spoofing, consider letting your friends know that your emails may have been spoofed and to avoid clicking the links in suspicious emails.

For more information, please visit faq.aol.com

-AOL Security Team

Nov 3rd 2011

AOL.com Relaunch - One Year Later...

What a difference a year makes.

One year ago, we relaunched AOL.com with the goal of being America's most intuitive, influential, and inspiring start page. Just a year ago, we had no HuffPost, a little bit of video, and Patch was still emerging.

We set out to do four things – put video front and center, better showcase our content, create new opportunities for our partners, and streamline access to AOL Search, Mail, and Local. The great news - the results have been significant year over year growth across the board with metrics like engagement and traffic.

Some highlights of where we are and where we are going:

· Video– Working with AOL Studios, we launched several new series like You've Got (110MM+ views and counting*) and HuffPost Celebrity, and we now do approximately 64.6M video views a month on AOL.com [September 2011 comScore Video Metrix]. We expect that to grow as we expand the AOL Video experience in the coming months.
· Content – Content referrals have exploded as we added AOL article pages to expand the experience and re-imagined the center column to be tighter and punchier. We now feature night and weekend stories to give AOL.com a distinctive overnight flavor. We have significantly upgraded the editorial vision and we now program the site 24 hours a day.
· Advertising– We view advertising in same light as content – meaning it should be engaging, useful, held to high standards and beautifully displayed. It used to be we sold one banner per day. But the market and consumers demanded more creativity and more impactful advertising. We answered by adding several new products like the Partner DL, the Mantle, the Custom Video Module and the industry's most dynamic rich media executions, Project Devil.
· Services– Working closely with the search team and through constant testing, we saw huge growth in search. Local referrals also doubled. We're now working to improve our content syndication to AOL Mail. We also are building new tabs on AOL.com to better surface AOL's growing portfolio of Local and Social tools.
· Cause–Our number one core value is "We are in the business of helping people. Period."

To that end we view the AOL homepage as an incredible platform to help people improve their lives while shining a spotlight on non-profits doing amazing work. We've taken our responsibility as America's startpage seriously and served 12 billion pro-bono impressions on behalf of 250 non-profits and 35 Top 100 advertisers through the power of the Daily Impact Unit*. We also aggressively built marketing and programming efforts around important causes like helping Americans get jobs and supporting our troops and veterans.

Last November's relaunch was really just the first step in a constant evolution of the page. The biggest advantage we have is the web's best audience – affluent, influential, brand conscious, trendy individuals who want an easy, fun, and trustworthy internet experience.

We're getting smarter about how to reach and grow our audience in 2012. Great Audience + Great Content and Services + Great Ad Formats = the Best Page.

To those of you who visit aol.com every day –thank you. And for those who don't... set aol.com...

*Internal Data

Oct 28th 2011

A chat with Internet pioneer Charley Kline

On Wednesday, October 29th 1969, a UCLA graduate student named Charley Kline sent the first ever transmissions over the ARPANET – the research network that evolved into the Internet. Ahead of the 42nd anniversary of that momentous day, the AOL Mail Blog spoke to Charley (who is an AOL Mail user) about the origins of the internet, the role of email and the future of online communication".

We asked him a few questions around the future and past of the Internet and here's a small sample of what he said:

What is the future of online communication?

I've been talking about online video chatting for years. You had picture phones in the 60s but they were really expensive and pretty much didn't work. Now you have Skype and AV by AOL, but I think the next step is video mail where you can record a message and send it as an email.

In a world of social networking, is email still relevant?

On social networks everybody sees what you post. Unless it becomes more convenient to change this each time you post a message, email will remain useful when you want to talk directly to people.

Official messages like statements from your bank will still come via email especially as improved security and DomainKeys Identified Mail lets you know that it is a genuine message.

Then there are commercial services like daily deals newsletters. People won't want them cluttering up their Facebook page but email lets you filter them into folders until you're ready to read them.

To read the full interview, check out the AOL Mail Blog.

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