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AIM Just Locked Out A Whole Bunch Of Users

It's bad enough that Aol's IM service has been left for dead. Now Aol is resetting user passwords, and some people have no way to recover them.

Posted on March 21, 2012, at 4:39 p.m. ET

Late this morning, countless AIM accounts dropped offline. For reasons known only to Aol, the company decided today was a good day to reset a limited range of user passwords without warning. It was abrupt, but companies do this every time there's a data breach, or sometimes just to make sure people are using strong passwords.

Normally this is no big deal — you just go through the reset routine. But Aol is not a normal company, and AIM is not a normal service. AIM is too old for this kind of stuff:

The email account I used to register my first AIM address hasn't been active for years, so I couldn't use it to get through the password reset routine. Thankfully, my security question is about where I was born — a stupid security question, by the way — so that worked fine. My coworker's was about her pet's name, which she filled out when her dog was still alive (RIP). Again: AIM is old.

Aol recently laid off most of the non-support employees in the AIM group and put the service out to pasture. But this alone doesn't seem like enough of a reason to just up and reset everyone's passwords. Was something wrong? Was there an exploit we didn't know about? Or is a disgruntled AIM team just fucking around with us?

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