How safe is your information on the internet? Between recent hacks and data leaks, the conversation over cyber security has been a hot topic. What does this mean for the future? How does this affect things going forward? Let’s take a look…
As we all know by this point, Ashley Madison – the extramarital dating website – was recently hacked by a group known as “The Impact Team.” The group threatened to release the information of its users if the site was not shut down. Needless to say, over 37 million registered users were exposed, having their names and personal information leaked. Avid Life Media – the company behind Ashley Madison – has attempted to use the Digital Millennium Copyright Act to help control the leaks and help pull the information off some websites, but once the damage has been done, there isn’t much that can be done about it.
However, this post is not to talk about the moral/ethical implications of joining Ashley Madison (including the information of those who had accounts but never used it). Rather, it’s to talk about the issue of cyber security.
According to documents obtained as part of the data leak, Ashley Madison’s staff had raised concerns over how secure the service really was, citing a “lack of security weakness across the organization” as recently as June, roughly a month before the cyberattack. However, the company did very little to address the problem and raising questions of how fraudulent they were.
How does this affect things going forward? For one, even if you weren’t actively using the service, you’re still at risk. Many accounts weren’t real, including those registered under someone else’s name or email addresses, or those who simply signed up out of curiosity. While nothing may have happened, their information remains. There is also the issue that the data could’ve been collected and sold to companies like Facebook and Google.
To look at things in a bigger scope, the Ashley Madison hack has brought up questions over cyber security in general, and if the internet in its current state isn’t secure enough. This will undoubtedly make people think twice before skimming and accepting the Terms of Service. According to cyber security author Troy Hunt, “The bigger picture, though, is what it signals for online security and that’s something we all should be learning from; you just cannot trust websites to keep personal details private.”
What does this mean moving forward? If anything, this should be a call to review the security on your own website. Another cyber attack could come sooner rather than later, and being prepared is of the utmost importance, even as people seem to lose faith in security more and more each year.
Morrison, Kimberlee. “Ashley Madison Hack Raises Questions About Online Security and Privacy.” SocialTimes. http://www.adweek.com/socialtimes/ashley-madison-hack-raises-questions-about-online-security-and-privacy/625642?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+socialtimes+%28SocialTimes.com%29 August 25, 2015
Bernard, Dough. “Column: Why Ashley Madison Hack Should Worry Everyone.” Voice of America. http://www.voanews.com/content/column-why-ashley-madison-should-worry-everyone/2932776.html August 26, 2015
Hern, Alex. “Ashley Madison staff raised security concerns before hack.” The Guardian. http://www.theguardian.com/technology/2015/aug/19/ashley-madison-staff-raised-security-concerns-before-hack 19 August 2015