Aug 26, 2015 09:28 PM EDT
“Life is short, have an affair,” Ashley Madison, the notorious adultery site, beckoned. For around 14 years since its launch in 2001, millions of users the world over trusted the site to connect them to extramarital flings. And these millions, around 39 million people in 53 countries, never expected that their involvement in the site would be found out, ever. Until July 15th, that is.
On July 15th, The Impact Team, an online vigilante group, announced how they stole the details of these 39 million users. Their sole demand? That Ashley Madison’s parent company, Canada-based Avid Life Media, would stop the operations for Ashley Madison and its sister site, Established Men. However, Avid Life Media had not given in to the online vigilantes’ demands, and so, these details of these millions of users have been released.
The impact of the hack attack directed at the dating site cannot be underestimated. As of this week, two suicides have been reported, both from Toronto, Canada. While this is a rather minuscule number, especially as compared to the estimated 39 million total users of Ashley Madison, the loss of one life alone affects not only one life, but the lives of the family and friends who survive them, as well.
Thus, the grim days for Ashley Madison’s users continue. Avid Life Media did not give in to the vigilante group’s demands, so it must face the consequences of the massive cleanup. Aside from plugging the security holes and making sure that business continues as usual, they also face a train wreck of debacles, from the task of weeding out the perpetrators of the hack, to the damage control needed because of the users’ exposed information, and even to the lawsuits they will face. For the affected and their loved ones, Emily Dreyfuss of Wired published a helpful and sensible article, “How to Check if You or a Loved One Were Exposed in the Ashley Madison Hack.” There were notes on not focusing on the witch hunt of finding out whether one’s spouse registered for the site. Rather, Dreyfuss encourages families to focus on going back to the real solutions of the breach in trust: Repairing, strengthening, or even forging new ties with one’s family.
A class action lawsuit is being prepared against Avid Life Media, for failing to protect the identity and privacy of its clients. Rightfully so, especially since The Impact Team also exposed how Avid Life Media’s “Full Delete” service is a complete scam. A “Full Delete” order supposedly wipes out a user’s data, completely, for a one-time fee of $19 USD. The Impact Team revealed that this service just scams users out of their hard-earned $19, as their data is still very much there, and as of July 15th, in The Impact Team’s hands. As of August 18th and 20th, the data is out there, ready for any other hacker to use for their own malevolent purposes.
This certainly looks like drama that may stretch for months, even years more. Hopefully, no one else will feel such despair as to commit suicide. Life is short, this too, shall pass. Ashley Madison users just need to pull a paper bag over their heads, then.
Ashley Madison caters to married people, while Established Men connects wealthy males with beautiful young women. The estimates of their user base range from 33 million to 39 million, depending on the source. The 39 million cited in this article is from the Wikipedia page of the leak, “Ashley Madison data breach.” The page is separate from the Wikipedia page on Ashley Madison, the website.
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