Monday, July 20, 2015
Ashley Madison hacked. Cheaters cringe.
The big news in tech today revolves around the Ashley Madison website. It has attracted controversy since it first went live in 2001 for offering what it calls a discreet way for married people to have affairs. Subscribers are guaranteed a "real-life encounter" within 30 days of signing on, or they get their money back. Its tagline - "life is short, have an affair" - kind of says it all. Sadly.
Given the fact that we live firmly in the digital age, it should surprise no one that this site has been hacked by someone - or more than one someone...still trying to figure that one out - who is now threatening to release the information of all of its 37 million users (!) online unless the site is shut down for good.
Ashley Madison is run by Toronto-born Noel Biderman, who is the CEO of Avid Life Media, a company that also includes the sister site, Established Men. Over and above the usual membership fees, the site offers an additional service, called "Full Delete", that for $19 will have all personal data wiped from the website after the individual chooses to leave the site.
The hacker or hackers, under the name "Impact Team", is/are claiming that the company took the money from subscribers - to the tune of $1.7 million in 2014 alone - but never actually deleted the data.
A small amount of user data has already been released online - a la WikiLeaks style - and the hacker says everything will be shared publicly if both websites are not shut down for good. For its part, the company says it believes the hack is an inside job - possibly a third party who has insider knowledge of its systems - and it believes it is close to identifying who is responsible.
The lesson: If you're going to have an affair, don't use a website to do it. And for the record, Biderman says he is happily married.
As you can imagine, I've been doing quite a bit of media on this. I spoke live with NewsTalk 1010 Toronto's John Moore, CP24's Jackie Crandles and CTV News Channel's Marcia MacMillan (story here) this morning, and will be included in Katie Simpson's package for the CTV National News later this evening (link here).
For now, I'll be in the corner shaking my head. How sad that digital lifestyle is reduced to this. You'd think humanity is better than this. You'd think wrong.