I am not going to address any moral questions here, rather I am going to focus on the pragmatics…
If you would be nervous about using this site, you have good reason. By now, most of heard that a hacker gained possession of the information in Ashley Madison’s (AM) databases, and released it to the public. At first they tried to extort the owners of AM (Avid Life Media) a Canadian company. The hacker threatened to reveal the database if Ashley Madison website was not shut down. AM did not comply and the data of 32 million customers was released to the internet. One assumes that AM has patched up the hole that allowed the data to be exported from their servers.
Quick Facts: Ashley Madison Hack
The Question: Should I use Ashley Madison?
I assume at this point, that the technical team at Ashley Madison has taken steps to shore up their security. To me that is little comfort.
Ashley Madison was targeted,
and they are still out there. It would be simple matter for any hacktivist to sign up, pretend to be interested, gain your picture and contact information, and then publish it on the Internet. A small scale exposure such as this would be harmful to the company, showing a vulnerability. It could be devastating to the individuals.
If you are a single guy, and interested in a casual, no strings fling, your risks are fairly low. The same is true for a single woman. You have to be willing to accept the hazards and limitations of dating a married person. Yea maybe you get exposed, but hey, you are young, single and having fun. Such an incident is not likely to have any real impact on your life, unless your employment has some sort of morals clause. If you are married, then the risk should be obvious.
If you are a guy, why go there?
According to a Washington Post report in August 2015, the leaked data in Ashley Madison shows a 6 to 1, man to woman ratio. That is the highest ratio I have heard of on any site. However, the WaPo report calls out Ashley Madison for creating fake profiles: “Many of the female profiles on the site were created by a relatively small amount of individuals,” so the 6:1 man to woman ratio is substantially inflated. Globally women profiles on dating sites seem to be at about 2%. So if you are a good looking guy, you might find a few here and there.
If you are one of the 2%, well it would seem that you can have your pick of the litter.
If you must
…use Ashley Madison or any dating website for that matter
Don’t use any sort of debit or credit card. Your best bet is to get a U.S.P.S. Money order and mail it. Yes it is less convenient, but we are going for security here. If that is not possible, then go for a payment service, such as Paypal.
Use a burner email. As for all online websites, you should have a separate email that you use to sign up. Your email will be sold for spam, should one of your “dates” turn out to be a scammer. Remember to not put your full name in the email profile, as this information is transmitted with the email address.
You can go full hoodie. Temporary email services such as yopmail and a masking phone number, such as what iNumber provides will provide more anonymity.
Ashley Madison still has as its tag line, “40 million anonymous members”. I guess they have a different definition of anonymous in Canada. For what ever reason, somebody is really pissed-off at Ashley Madison. It is some sort of inside job. This could be an employee, a contractor, or someone who managed to get a system administrator’s credentials. The person risked major jail time to pull this off. The data was released on the dark web. This step not only provided anonymity for posting the data, but it also ensured that the data would be rapidly replicated across the globe on the peer-to-peer file sharing systems.
They are still out there.
Proceed at your own risk.
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What are your thoughts? Has this affected anybody you know? Please leave a comment and thank you for your support.