back to article eBay eBabe enigma explained: Microsoft bug blamed after topless model slings e-souk's emails at stunned Brits

We've all seen some wild bugs, but this one is just baffling. On Friday evening, we reported that some Register readers, among other netizens, got an eyeful in their Microsoft's Outlook mobile app inboxes: invoices, delivery alerts, and other emails from eBay UK appeared to be sent from a topless busty babe. Specifically, the …

  1. Dinanziame
    Paris Hilton

    I really wish we could get more details on the bug... Somebody suggested a hash collision, which is a somewhat reasonable explanation; but then you wonder how often it happened already and was ignored until it put a porny pic on a very visible account.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      No damage done

      In the event of a hash collision, all parties would be protected by Bulgarian airbags.

      1. teknopaul Silver badge

        Re: No damage done

        Nobody considers the reputation of the model: who unwittingly has her top class baps associated with Microsofts pisspoor email service.

        She should be compensated.

      2. NoneSuch Silver badge
        Thumb Up

        Gotta Love The Reg...

        Going out of their way to keep us abreast of the situation... (ahem)

    2. TRT Silver badge

      But was it a bug or a boob?

      1. Blackjack Silver badge

        It was a result of code being written by bros or "brocode".

        Next time e-mail headlines will be replaced by wonders like "Stay in the kitchen" and "Make me a sandwich."

    3. BillG

      Hotlinking eBaying

      A few years back my logs showed a popular seller on eBay was hotlinking to one of the JPEG images on my website for their avatar. I noticed it because the user was very active on eBay forums so I was seeing thousands of hits a day - the user would have five forum posts on one page, so five avatars, times a few hundred page views a day, for each forum page. You get the idea.

      I remember wondering why eBay allowed an external image instead of uploading an avatar. Hotlinking was a big deal to me as my website was getting popular and hotlinking was stealing plenty of bandwidth and screwing up my stats before I put in protections. I repeatedly messaged the user, sent maybe a dozen complaints to eBay - all were ignored.

      Finally after a week of this guy stealing my bandwidth I decided to replace the image they were linking to with an image of the male anatomy. This was the user's avatar for about a day before I saw their account was suspended. I'm wondering if this might be a similar situation & the avatar was Webmaster's Revenge?

      1. DCFusor Silver badge

        Re: Hotlinking eBaying

        Awesome story dude - I'm going to keep that one in mind. Maybe that's why my one site uses so much bandwith per visit in the stats they show could have some fun with that idea.

        Also, El Reg - best subheading ever!

    4. AVee

      Hash collision is one option, but I'd guess that would be a backend thing, and MS is telling people to update their apps...

      Hash collision or not, it is somewhat worrying. It means there is room for error in the way Outlook serves data belonging to a certain account. This time it's just an avatar, but it makes you wonder if the same might happen to an actual mail for example. That would potentially be, erm, even more interesting.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Soft-core porno

    Nope defintely not soft porn porno. This should be classed as scientific study of the female anatomy..

    1. TRT Silver badge

      Re: Soft-core porno

      I'd suggest it's not a control study. That individual doesn't look like a wild type. Definitely a manipulation.

      1. Joe W Silver badge

        Re: Soft-core porno

        But was it at? Probably not, no plinth or urn in the picture...

        1. Allan George Dyer Silver badge

          Re: Soft-core porno

          Hmm, there is a flowerpot, is that close enough to an urn?

          1. TRT Silver badge

            Re: Soft-core porno

            There was a flowerpot???!!! Didn't notice. For some reason.

            1. Allan George Dyer Silver badge

              Re: Soft-core porno

              It is easy to miss in the pixelated version, I admit.

  3. Lord Elpuss Silver badge

    "On Monday, a spokesperson for Microsoft kept El Reg abreast of its investigation:"


  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    It's a feature, not a bug

    In before someone else states the obvious.

  5. RGE_Master

    Well I was sat in the toilet when I got the email, the only thing that went through my head?

    "Oh well, here we go again!"

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Is this why I couldn't get on eBay on the work internet?

    Didn't give a reason just 404'd me.

    1. Tomato Krill

      Re: Random

      404 is a reason, shirly?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Random

        Looks like it was not just this site, couldn't get on the email but could get Hotmail and YM.

        Very strange!

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I think it was done on purpose

    Trying to tempt Gmail users back.

  8. TrumpSlurp the Troll Silver badge


    Presumably there is an image store with all the profile images stored which is also used by MS to store the default image and populate the emails?

    Plus some weird naming of the default image?

    Or finger trouble with an update which pointed to the user area instead of the system area?

    I think efforts should be made to get enough information for a "who me?" story. This does have the feel of a naming policy which was vulnerable to a minor configuration slip.

    Alternatively the developer used their own chosen image file from their personal profile by mistake?

    Edit: if someone could disassemble the App (since this seems to be cured by updating the App) it might be instructive to see the path name used.

    1. TRT Silver badge

      Re: Bug?

      A series of images held for the purposes of testing automatic nudity censorship algorithms... or at least, that's my excuse.

  9. Andy 68

    "Tit for tat"

    Brilliant.... just brilliant.

    1. IceC0ld Silver badge

      Re: "Tit for tat"

      more a tit for that really :o)

  10. Teiwaz Silver badge

    Oh, and not particularly racey, even a little tasteful IMO

    For some reason it reminded me of the Test Card.

    1. IceC0ld Silver badge

      Re: Oh, and not particularly racey, even a little tasteful IMO

      For some reason it reminded me of the Test Card.

      I can recall said test card, and I must say the young lady has certainly gotten all grown up nicely now :o)

      I also have to add, I REALLY do need to come visit and see just what you consider to be a test card LOL

  11. Pascal Monett Silver badge

    A disabled account

    Great. So Microsoft keeps disabled accounts lying around to plunder images from them. That's really smart. What else do they occasionally pilfer, one has to wonder ?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: A disabled account

      Well yes, disabled accounts are not the same as deleted and T&Cs of most cloudy firms make it clear the stuff you upload becomes theirs to some degree or completely..

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    'We apologize for the appearance of an inappropriate avatar image...'

    what're they apologising for. its a welcome surprise to at least 50% of the popluation. thats almost a whole brexit.

    1. veti Silver badge

      Look, if you want to see pictures of boobs on your computer, they're not exactly hard to find. Having one pop out at you when you weren't looking - is probably unwelcome in many more than 50% of cases.

  13. Milton

    There's a sketch there

    Wife sees message with that avatar, immediately assumes that her techie hubbie is spoofing his mistress's email address to disguise hot talk as innocent eBay updates, won't listen to any excuses ... ah, the opportunities for strife.

    Seriously, it would be interesting to know how this occurred, especially if it is a hash collision as someone suggested. The odds ought be astronomical, but as the late Terry Pratchett said: "Million-to-one chances crop up nine times out of ten". Perhaps the hashing algo they use was designed for a couple orders of magnitude fewer email addresses ...?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: There's a sketch there

      A colleague added some code to the OS which he knew had a statistical chance of hitting a boundary condition - so he made it type an operator console message if it ever happened.

      He calculated the long odds and went ahead in the live system. He had the odds right - but hadn't realised how many times his code would get obeyed. In computers a million iterations can take only a few minutes.

  14. SVV Silver badge

    the image was erroneously pulled from a disabled Microsoft account (MSA)

    Probably yet another example of the dying art of writing accurate SQL queries being buried under tons of error prone ORM frameworks. And what is this superfluous addition of their three letter acronym (TLA)?

  15. cavac

    For a moment there..

    ..i was thinking "Ebay is going for the used mail bride market."

    You know, "mail bride, double-D, one previous owner, slightly used, private sale - no waranty".

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: For a moment there..

      "Actual measurements may vary".

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: For a moment there..

        Packaged by weight, not volume; contents may have settled during shipping.

  16. LeahroyNake Silver badge

    The breast thing

    I have seen on ebay for ages.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: The breast thing

      Maybe someone was selling baps?

  17. JimmyPage Silver badge

    Does anyone believe this shite ?

    It sounds like exactly the sort of thing an El Regger would say to their boss who they knew was completely "whatevers" to technical details.

  18. STOP_FORTH Silver badge
    Paris Hilton

    eBay question

    Did anyone ever come up with a name for the old eBay practice of vendors taking pictures of reflective items (like kettles) for sale whilst naked?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: eBay question

      Exhibitionist ?

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: eBay question


  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Ahhhh, outsourcing!

    1. Ken Shabby Bronze badge


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