A pastebin is a Web application that allows users to upload and share text online. The most common use is for sharing source code or configuration information. There are thousands of pastebins online, often geared towards particular groups or focuses.
Once text has been uploaded to a pastebin, other users can edit. Each upload has its own URL, which users share through IRC, programming-related forums, or other online venues such as Facebook or Twitter. Twitter users sometimes post pastebin URLs to send followers to longer updates than the microblogging site allows. Programmers use pastebins to share interesting code with others or to solicit help with debugging. Users also post text notes and conversations from IRC (Internet Relay Chat) logs.
The best-known pastebin site, Pastebin.com, was the first to provide such a service. The site, which launched in 2002, was inspired by a PHP-based program for code sharing, itself called Paste. The pastebin Web app on the site is also written in PHP.
Although most pastebins are intended for legitimate purposes, they are sometimes exploited by criminals, who post malware code, stolen information and details of exploits, among other things. In July 2011, the hacker group Lulzsec (Lulz Security) used Pastebin.com to share confidential data stolen from websites including Sony Pictures, PBS.org, and Fox.com, as well as sites belonging to the Arizona state police, the CIA and Sony Pictures. There is also speculation that code posted to pastebin can be used as a component of an automated botnet operation.
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