If you hadn’t heard of Ashley Madison (AM) before this week you most likely would have by now. (If you really don’t know it is a dating website for married people looking to have an affair, and that is how it is marketed. It has been in the news because it’s customer database has been hacked and released after the hackers demands weren’t met).
A few thoughts… (I’m being a poor blogger and not linking to sources and references. Motherboard, Vice, The Verge, Boing Boing, Gizmodo, practically every blog/newspaper/opinion writer has written in detail, let Google be your friend)
Customers names, emails, credit card details, sexual preferences were released. It was possible to pay AM a small fee to have your profile removed, however it was not deleted from their database and was still leaked. NEVER use your real name, work email, government email, credit card on a website that you would now, or ever, not want to be made public. And never trust that things will be removed, they won’t. Use a fake email and prepaid anonymous debit card at a minimum.
If you have searched the data for email addresses of friends, family, Barak Obama, whoever keep in mind that AM did not require validation of email addresses on sign up. This means that anyone could sign up using anyone else’s email address without their knowledge.
There was actually TWO websites owned by the same company that were hacked, AM and Established Gentlemen. A third site owned by them was not. The unhacked site was called Couger Life, aimed at finding mature laydeez. Established Gentlemen is essentially a sugar daddy site and was of more concern to the hackers than AM because they felt it was a front for “prostitution/trafficking”. NEVER assume that nerds, geeks, hackers will not have your free choice in their interests and they won’t fall into the sex with benefits must be trafficking mythology. And ALWAYS assume that nerds, geeks and hackers (I’m lazily lumping them in together but they are not necessarily equivalent terms) are incredibly smart and talented.