In a panic to save my job…

At about 3:43 pm, Paul (my boss’s boss…two levels below Jeff Taylor the CEO/founder), came over. He said someone had apparently hacked the home page and changed the success story this morning. The success stories are served through DoubleClick…which is what I’m responsible for. I tell him I’ll look and see if I can find any “hacked” ads.

I open up DoubleClick AdManager and start poking around. In the back of my mind, I know that I’m probably the #1 suspect for putting up fake success stories. I’m the one with access to DoubleClick, since I had created that fake Worf success story back in December, and since I had actually talked about how we could target certain ads to certain people. I’m sweating.

About 60 seconds later, Paul’s back asking if I found anything. I had looked through the user list to see who had logged in within the last day and started running a report of all advertisers on Monster’s home page (where the success stories appear) to see if anything unusual was there.

He wanders off and I can hear him talking about it with other tech people. The tech department’s in a near panic.

JoAnn (my boss) forwards me an e-mail from Jeff Taylor (which has been forwarded through half a dozen people already)…

Sent: Tuesday, April 01, 2003 1:52 PM
To: Prod & Strategy; Monster Marketing
Subject: Memo from Jeff Taylor

Memorandum from Jeff Taylor

Dear Team,

I’m sure many of you have heard about or seen the fake success stories that appeared on the Monster homepage early this morning. It appears that someone hacked into our site and managed to place bogus “success stories” on our homepage. We have removed the “success stories,” and we’re still assessing whether it was an internal or external incident.

We have already received a few media calls about the incident, and Kellie and Kevin are currently working on a plan to address it.

This has all happened while I’m in New York with the entire executive team, so I’m looking for help from the product marketing group – how we address it from a marketing/sales communications front. This is the first time in our history that someone has been able to hack into the site.

Please come to Technopillar at 4:00 PM with your ideas on how to deal with this issue, communications for customers, and how best to prevent this in the future. Thanks.


“Bringing people together to advance their lives”

Reading the message, I can tell something’s not quite right. Nobody had removed the success stories. They were still running…and if anyone had removed them, I’d have known about it. I figure it’s one of several possibilities:

  • Someone thinks one of the real success stories is a joke. (Looking at the photos, I could believe it.)
  • Someone Photoshopped a screenshot and sent it.
  • Someone just called up and claimed they saw it as a joke.

…but if this was sent at 1:52 pm, why was I only finding out about it at 3:43 pm? Joke or not, that wasn’t right.

Anyway, I run the report to display all creatives that were displayed on Monster today. As I’m kicking off that report, Paul comes up again and says he’s going to the meeting in Technopillar and to come down if/when I find something.

A few minutes later, IE dies from the load and my computer goes nuts. There were several THOUSAND images it was trying to display on that page. Yikes!

Paul returns from the meeting just as my machines recovers from the IE freakout. He tells me Jeff Taylor was playing an April Fools joke. Ha ha. Yeah, nothing quite so funny as sending your employees into a panic and making them worry about keeping their jobs.

April 1, 2003

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