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G-Archiver Steals Gmail Identities

Blog site Coding Horror recently recounted a security breach involving G-Archiver, a shareware Gmail backup utility that had been made available on many sites, including's popular

In an e-mail message to Coding Horror blogger Jeff Atwood, programmer Dustin Brooks described how he reverse-engineered G-Archiver after trying it out. He discovered that "apparent creator" John Terry had both hard-coded his own username and password for his Gmail account into the source code and coded the software to receive an e-mail with the user name and password for anybody else who used the utility to back up their Gmail data.

Atwood then logged into Terry's account using the information he'd uncovered and deleted a total of 1,777 e-mails with account information, including his own. Then he changed the password and security question to disable Terry's access and requested--as the logged-in John Terry--that Google delete the account.

Since publication of Brooks' discovery, the programmer has become a white hat hero to the hundreds of people who have posted comments to Atwood's original post. While Cnet has removed the utility from, G-Archiver is still available at a number of other download sites.

About the Author

Dian Schaffhauser is a former senior contributing editor for 1105 Media's education publications THE Journal, Campus Technology and Spaces4Learning.

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