A month ago, Avid Life Media’s apparently non-secure network was hacked and millions of users saw their sensitive information held at gunpoint while the assailants demanded AshleyMadison.com and EstablishedMen.com be shut down. Avid Life Media (ALM) refused.
Last night, it seems Impact Team (the group who hacked ALM) made good on their threat and released a large cache of data into the deep web.
9.7 gigabytes worth of data to be exact.
I have discussed this topic periodically over the last month and have noticed many seem to not be concerned with the hack of a seemingly-secure network and the theft of millions of users’ data. Many seem to be more concerned that people are committing adultery in the first place. I even wrote an article about how I perceive the focus to be the wrong way of looking at the incident and how the focus speaks volumes to misplaced priorities and our systemic revulsion to adultery.
I really do believe, collectively, we’ve gotten this one wrong.
Impact Team released a statement with the data dump:
Avid Life Media has failed to take down Ashley Madison and Established Men. We have explained the fraud, deceit, and stupidity of ALM and their members. Now everyone gets to see their data.
Find someone you know in here? Keep in mind the site is a scam with thousands of fake female profiles. See ashley madison fake profile lawsuit; 90-95% of actual users are male. Chances are your man signed up for the world’s biggest affair site, but never had one. He just tried to. If that distinction matters.
Find yourself in here? It was ALM that failed you and lied to you. Prosecute them and claim damages. Then move on with your life. Learn your lesson and make amends. Embarrassing now, but you’ll get over it.
Any data not signed with key 6E50 3F39 BA6A EAAD D81D ECFF 2437 3CD5 74AB AA38 is fake.”
I understand that Impact Team believes that hacking ALM’s apparently non-secure network and releasing the information of adulterers onto the dark web is activism. After all, adultery should not be condoned. But the difference between them and, say, Anonymous, is that Impact Team has created a potentially devastating situation for people based on a merely arbitrary reason.
I know from personal experience that adultery taking place in a relationship that is not mine does not affect me. It’s not that I don’t care; it’s that I respect the boundaries of the relationship that is not mine. If Johnny wants to sign up for a social network to cheat on Tina, that’s between Johnny and Tina and maybe whoever else may have been involved in the affair. That does not affect Robert or his wife or the people reading this article who are not currently involved in affairs or their inevitable fallout.
If Impact Team’s hack is about how ALM misleads it’s users (which I don’t doubt ALM does), then what makes the assault on ALM’s secure network mean anything? ALM has a lot of users, sure, but there are more impressive targets out there with a higher payoff.
Why not hack Facebook and steal up to a billion users’ data. After all, Facebook is becoming increasingly more invasive and approval has decreased steadily since their IPO.
Why not hack IAC? That’s Match.com and OKCupid. There are tons of junk profiles on these sites.
This is why, despite what Impact Team appears to imply and what some have said, I don’t believe this hack is solely about a website that lies to its customers. This hack is about adultery and rabid support of Impact Team’s actions have justified the hacking of a secure network, the theft of user data, and the release of user data into a part of the Internet where stolen information is currency.
What does this say about us?