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“For me? You shouldn’t have. No, really…”

Yesterday, we took a look at a Chrome extension designed to roll back time on shared, editable documents and let you view all changes made.

The concern was that potentially private information would end up spilling out into the open.

More often than not, the sad truth is that if you’re worrying after the creation stage, you’ve probably left it too late and those juicy secrets are going to escape. Deploying a healthy dose of caution before setting digital pen to paper is always going to pay off.

However, things do end up being left in documents, files and folders that shouldn’t be there (or left intentionally as a message or a joke). Sometimes, it’s a big deal. Other times it’s a case of mild embarrassment.

Whatever the outcome, strange things and unforeseen happenings do occur from time to time.

Below, we have a round-up of all the times said healthy dose of caution wasn’t so much thrown to the wind as jammed into a fifty foot cannon and fired into the path of an oncoming space station.

1) Bitcoin Bots and Secret Keys

Bots are constantly on the prowl for keys which they can make use of to go Bitcoin mining. It took one accidental AWS key exposure all of five minutes to land the affected programmer with a $2,375 mining bill. This is certainly a step up from your average Twitter DM fail. Here’s some best practices for managing your Amazon AWS keys.

2) Nintendo Game Contains Traces of (Rude) Browsing History

Oh dear. A snapshot of what the programmer happened to be doing at the time they were slapping their game together got caught up in some code. As a result it was extracted by someone long after said coder had closed their laptop for the day and proclaimed “Job done”‘. Warning: Not Safe For Work text (no images though, so that’s a bonus).

3) Malware Messaging

Malicious code authors often leave messages buried away for researchers to find – typically, these are profanity laced “love letters” to whichever security company happens to be annoying them most at the time. Brian Krebs gets more than his fair share, including his head on a Meme generation website. I realise a meme generation website isn’t exactly secret messages, but it’s too bizarre not to include.

4) Dreamcast quirk “almost cost 100k”

The Dreamcast might be the greatest console ever created, but that doesn’t mean everything is guaranteed to run smoothly. A game developer made use of the Dreamcast’s memory card (The VMU) to download images of scantily clad women. From there, he used those images as “spraypaint” in a popular game called Jet Set Radio, plastering them onto in-game surfaces with his spraycan. Unfortunately for him, he didn’t realise images on the VMU would eventually rotate as screensavers – leading to chaos as the company he worked for thought lots of naked people had ended up in a game they were about to ship.

5) Hot Coffee Burns Rockstar

In what might be the most famous example of “Things that should have been removed but whoops”, a fairly tame minigame was left in the code of GTA San Andreas. That same tame minigame cost Rockstar something like $50 million. A good reminder that no matter how lost to the void you think something might be, there’s always going to be someone that can bring it back from the brink – with spectacular consequences.

6) Geolocation Snags Hacker

If you’re going to brag about your hacking skills online, posting up an iPhone snap of your girlfriend containing Metadata is probably the wrong way to go about it. Another tale involving selfies gone wrong – resulting in three bombs and lots of explosions – has also recently come to light.

A number of cautionary tales, then, as we look at the detritus of their neglected metadata / technological mishaps and think about how different things could have been. If you need me, I’ll be crossing my fingers and hoping you kept the receipt for that odd looking digital package you’re hiding behind your back – I’m not entirely sure I want to see what’s in it…

Christopher Boyd


Christopher Boyd

Former Director of Research at FaceTime Security Labs. He has a very particular set of skills. Skills that make him a nightmare for threats like you.