For those of you not privy to the underbelly of the internet of things, or those of you living in a cave, the news media and the internet in general, are currently reaching an apoplectic state. All thanks to a site called AshleyMadison.com and a group calling itself The Impact Team.
Ashley Madison is a Canadian-based online dating service and social networking service marketed to people who are married or in a committed relationship. Its slogan is “Life is short. Have an affair.” The website was launched in 2001. According to third-party web analytics provider SimilarWeb, the site has more than 124 million visits per month, as of 2015, and is ranked No. 18 among “adult” sites.
Apparently, problems arose a while back when members were either caught by their significant others, had their full share of affairs, or suddenly became a tad more moral. After multiple inquiries to their site, Ashley Madison agreed to create a means by which members could have their data and membership info permanently erased from the website. For a small payment of $20.00 of course. They dubbed it their Full Delete feature and in 2014 alone, the site raked in a cool $1.77 million dollars in revenue from people who then believed their info was forever erased.
Enter The Impact Team, an anonymous hacking group with a serious vendetta against Ashley Madison and it’s parent corporation Avid Life Media. Seems they didn’t believe that Ashley Madison was really erasing all that data as promised, so they hacked the site and stole the personal info of over 37 million users. They claim that the data proves that members who paid the $20.00 were ripped off and that the Full Delete option was/is a scam. Oh, and they also threatened to release all the information they gleaned from the hacked server(s). Which they did. And now, the internet has lost its collective mind.
As the news media, suspicious spouses and divorce attorneys pour through the whopping 10 GB of data released, some interesting, sad and amusing stories are beginning to unfold.
- Remember Josh Duggar? The former Executive Director of the Family Research Council, most recently known as the perv who molested his sisters as a juvenile? Yeah, him. Seems they’ve located not one, but two Ashley Madison accounts for Josh.
- Some poor woman in Sydney, Australia was advised, via telephone, on live radio, that the morning show hosts had found an Ashley Madison account for her husband. After muttering some expletive, the woman hung up.
- Stars and Stripes, a noted military news source reports that, so far, they’ve found thousands of AshleyMadison users who signed up using .mil email addresses. (.mil email is traditionally restricted to active duty personnel).
- Thousands of .gov email address were also found in the data breach and some have already been traced back to the House, Senate, State Department and Department of Homeland Security.
Now, no doubt a lot of these memberships were set up using fake/fraudulent email accounts. But experience tells me that it will turn out to be a small percentage.And I’m not certain with whom I should be more morally outraged. Ashley Madison as an entity, the millions of users worldwide, The Impact Team for the hack and release of personal data, or the morons, looking to have a fling, who would use their own, verifiable info to register with the site.
In any event, get the popcorn ready, sit back and enjoy the sh*t storm that’s soon to follow.