For those unaware, AshleyMadison.com is a website which, for nearly a decade, has declared that “Life is short, have an affair.” They provide(d) a service for married people to join anonymously and find the perfect partner who also wanted to have an affair.
Essentially, it’s a dating site for those already married.
Recently, though, there was a report that hackers gained access to client information in the Ashley Madison database, compromising names, addresses, credit cards, and more – for nearly 40 million users.
Yes, there are 40 million married men and women who have actually paid to cheat on their spouses.
Wired.com reports: A data dump, 9.7 gigabytes in size, was posted on Tuesday to the dark web using an Onion address accessible only through the Tor browser. The files appear to include account details and log-ins for some 32 million users of the social networking site, touted as the premier site for married individuals seeking partners for affairs.
I can’t say I feel bad for those whose information has been released, as I am adamantly anti-cheating, though I am undecided on the severity of the punishment. Perhaps names would have been enough, but confidential information threatening the user’s well-being is still up for discussion.
However, one interesting tidbit about the hack is that about 15,000 of the email addresses are .mil or .gov – likely an unsurprising statistic for those who subscribe to the philosophy that politicians are dishonest.
Something else to consider: Most hacks have been to the tune of credit card data or compromising the security of large companys…when, in recent memory (if ever), has there ever been a real hack like this, which exposes the personal secrets of millions of people? Perhaps history is being made with this one.
But, I digress. I think that while this situation showcases the obvious need to always put our personal privacy first, it also brings to further light an already serious issue our society is facing – rampant cheating and infidelity. The lack of value put on commitment and monogamy. The absolute disregard for promises made to the person we are supposed to love forever.
It is one thing to know that a website for affairs has 40 million paying members, and classifying them as nothing but anonymous numbers on a chart. It is easy to shake our heads at the absurdity but somehow turn the other cheek to it because of the ambiguity of the users. But, now, those members are real. They are people with names. They are husbands, wives, brothers, sisters, and members of the government who runs our country.
The actual reach of this information is yet to be determined – it is currently still heavily encrypted, but there is always someone out there willing to extract data and put it into easy-to-read formats to make sure the public can easily get their hands on it. What will this mean for the future of online security and for relationships? What will this do to the relationships of those who have been outed? How will this continue to push down the level of trust that men and women seem to have towards each other lately?
These things all remain to be seen depending on how things unfold – but for now, the divorce attorneys are stretching out their hamstrings and getting ready for a marathon run. It’s going to be a lucrative year for them.
For the rest of us who actually have the integrity to stay committed to the person we love, we can sit back and observe the debauchery. But for those who thought they could throw caution to the wind and never get caught, reality is calling you.
Karma, as they say, is a bitch.
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