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First logo of America Online

The Term Phishing is Introduced as Part of Hacking AOL

Screenshot from the AoHell program.

Screenshot of the AoHell set of hacking tools designed specifically for America Online (AOL).

"AOHell was the first of what would become thousands of programs designed for hackers created for use with AOL.(America Online) Starting around 1994 when a seventeen year old hacker from Pittsburgh, PA, known online as "Da Chronic",[1] used Visual Basic to create a toolkit that provided: a new DLL for the AOL client, a credit card number generator, email bomber, IM bomber, Punter, and a basic set of instructions. It was billed as, "An all-in-one nice convenient way to break federal fraud law, violate interstate trade regulations, and rack up a couple of good ol' telecommunications infractions in one fell swoop". When the program was loaded, it would play a short clip from Dr. Dre's 1993 song "Nuthin but a G Thang".

"Most notably, the program included a function for stealing the passwords of America Online users and, according to its creator, contains the first recorded mention of the term "phishing".[2] AOHell provided a number of other utilities which ran on top of the America Online client software. Though most of these utilities simply manipulated the AOL interface, some were powerful enough to let almost any curious party anonymously cause havoc on AOL. The first version of the program was released in 1994 by hackers known as The Rizzer, and The Squirrel." (Wikipedia article on AOHell, accessed 9-2020).

The first recorded use of the term "phishing" (baits used to "catch financial information and passwords) occurred on January 2, 1996 on the " America-online" Usenet newsgroup after AOL introduced measures to prevent using fake, algorithmically generated credit card numbers to open accounts. To obtain legitimate credit card information AOL crackers resorted to phishing.


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