When I first heard the name “Ashley Madison,” in mid-August 2015, I thought she must be just another young celebrity who hates America and licks donuts. Boy, was I wrong!
When “Impact Team” hacked into the Ashley Madison web site, pulled personal information of 39 million users and revealed a lot of that information on the web, I discovered “her” identity.
Ashley Madison is commercial web site with the slogan “Life is short. Have an affair.” The site “secretly” caters to people who seek extramarital affairs. I am told that women do not pay to enter and exit the site, though men pay for both (Surprise!) The site sounds quite like a local bar with a perpetual “Ladies Night,” allowing women free admission to attract paying men. That ploy still works, apparently, as tens of millions of men paid for the service. Furthermore, most of the women on that site are reportedly professional sex workers or just plain fake women.
The wily “Impact Team” of hackers compromised the site on July 15, 2015. Then, when the site refused the demand to completely shut down, the Impact Team posted many users’ personal information, including: names, addresses, phone numbers, birthdates, the last four digits of their credit cards, and biographical details.
Some of the exposed users work for us. That is to say that they are federal government workers from: the House of Representatives; the Senate; the Departments of Defense, Energy, Homeland Security, Justice, State, Transportation and the Treasury. Many of them used their work computers, which raises the question of proper computer usage at work; in the good-old-bad-old days when working in corporate offices, I’d have been fired for using my work computer for personal matters, especially involving a sex site. Some of them are in sensitive positions (intended pun), which raises the question of blackmail; what if some nefarious someone discovers a worker’s extramarital affair and blackmails him/her for information or worse? The federal fallout from the Ashley Madison hack is just beginning.
Finally, some are already taking action against the Ashley Madison site and its parent companies. Ashley Madison’s parent companies are Avid Dating Life and Avid Life Media, both based in Toronto, Canada. In mid-August, they were slapped with a $578 million class action lawsuit brought by 2 Canadian law firms due to the breach of personal information. In addition to the usual allegations associated with security breaches, the suit alleges that many users paid extra fees to have the web site remove their user data but the data was simply left complete and vulnerable (and ultimately hacked).
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