It has been said that all PR is good PR. That may not be entirely true when it comes to Ashley Madison, the Toronto-based “adultery website” which was hacked in early August 2015 – unearthing more than 37 million user profiles, credit card numbers and messages. Ashley Madison is hardly the first large company to be infiltrated as Target, DSW, Morgan Stanley and many other large organizations have been compromised as well. However, the Ashley Madison hack is not just dangerous but downright embarrassing for many who used the site to “cheat” on their spouses or partners.
One of the interesting aspects to this story is that the hackers have taken the moral high road and admitted infiltrating the site due to what they called “dubious business practices.” As such, the cyber criminals demanded that Ashley Madison shut down operations – which the website has refused to do. In retaliation, Vox reported the hackers are now releasing stolen data online.
According to Bravo TV, celebrities and other high-profile persons such as judges, police and teachers have been targeted. In addition, The Register reported that some extortionists demanded users to pay up, or risk having their friends and family told about their “dalliances.” That said, the monetary bribes have not been high but even so, has provoked fear among Ashely Madison users.
Prior to the hacking, Ashley Madison was doing well. IB Times reported the site reaped $115 million in revenue in 2015, a 45-percent jump from the $78 million in 2013. Now the company has to deal with five lawsuits “…seeking nearly $600 million in damages and a cloud of suspicion hanging over the site that very few women seemed to actually use it,” noted the IB Times.
Ashley Madison has had its share of controversy even before the hacking as they were called into court over allegations from a former employee who said her jobs was to create fake women accounts. The employee sued in 2012 and another female employee alleged a similar claim in 2013.
The issue of there being many more than men than women has added even more criticism of Ashley Madison. A report from Gizmodo writer, Annalee Newitz “…contends that Ashley Madison was primarily a simulated universe where guys paid, sometimes handsomely, to view fake female profiles and bogus photos, then send messages and online gifts to avatars.”
“What it shows is that even in society, no matter how much people look up to you, there are some core issues of immorality that we all deal with whether we want to admit it or not. And because we are finding preachers… public officials, and people who we look up to, it’s disheartening,” said social media expert, Dwann Rollison of Florida in a recent news report.
The Ashley Madison hack evokes memories of another high profile hack from last year, in the Epoch Times article: Jennifer Lawrence Nude Photo Scandal Highlights Perils of Privacy in the Digital Age, the author traces the origin and impact of the release of private pictures from notable celebrities, athletes and others online.