Earlier this week a group of hackers released over nine gigabytes of user data that was stolen from Avid Life Media in July. The data has yet to be verified by the company, and includes many obviously fake profiles. In light of this many people are now facing the professional implications of using company supplied email addresses to engage in personal activity, as well as possible legal action.
Because Ashley Madison’s free user signup does not require an email verification, it’s very likely that there are people who have had their email addresses used unknowingly by a third party. We’ve all heard the stories from a friend about how someone signed them up for an e-newsletter, or some other kind of website without their consent. It used to be a go-to prank, but with so much of our lives happening on the internet, it’s no longer a joke, and it’s not funny anymore.
People using their work emails to engage in personal activity online is becoming an increasing problem as we integrate our work lives more deeply into our personal ones. This should be a wake up call to those that do use work email for personal business.
Of particular interest is the fact that the “Full Delete” service offered by Avid Life Media has come into question, which costs roughly $20 per user and netted over 1.5 million dollars in 2014, apparently did not delete any information, but simply moved it onto a server owned by ALM. It appears that transaction records, real names, and addresses that were supposed to have been deleted were included in this hack, opening people up to blackmail and identity theft. With the growing mob-mentality of netizens people included in this attack could also become targets of personal attacks.
It can be easy to forget that once something is on the internet, it exists online forever, and that things that are online are often times untrue. It’s important to remember that the data released by the hackers was acquired illegally and is the result of theft.