The unidentified hackers who stole damning customer information from the adultery-facilitating site AshleyMadison.com are finally posting the data online. A huge data dump was posted on August 18, and another on August 20. The files include account details and log-ins for some 32 million users of the social networking site, which calls itself the premier site for married men or women seeking partners for affairs. They include seven years of credit card and other payment transaction details, going back to 2008, millions of payment transactions, names, street address, email address and amount paid, but not credit card numbers.
“Ashley Madison is the most famous name in infidelity and married dating,” the site asserts on its homepage. “Have an Affair today on Ashley Madison. Thousands of cheating wives and cheating husbands signup everyday looking for an affair…. With Our affair guarantee package we guarantee you will find the perfect affair partner.”
Nice. I named this scummy site an Unethical Website of the Month on the old Ethics Scoreboard in 2005, writing in part,
Adultery leads to shattered families, ruined finances, psychically damaged children and deep emotional scars all around. Most if not all spouses will eventually find themselves in a vulnerable state where unhappiness, anxiety, and stress have them primed to make an impulsive and ultimately destructive decision to pursue an illicit relationship. These are the times when people need good advice, counseling, and perspective. These are the times when AshleyMadison.com instead offers the tools they need to tear apart their commitments, vows and lives: secrecy, betrayal, selfishness, and irresponsibility…Yes: it is all legal. But inducing people to hurt others while subjecting themselves to the risks of remorse, financial ruin, and even violence is far worse than many crimes…
America is having enough trouble keeping its families together without having slick web sites working to tear them apart.
Observations:1. This couldn’t happen to a more deserving company. By all means, let’s catch and prosecute the hackers. As for the harm they did to Ashley Madison: good.
2. Regarding the company’s clients: nobody should have any sympathy for them whatsoever. They were cheating, lying and doing harm by definition, and to those who loved, trusted and depended on them. Their wrong is far greater than the wrong done to them, and without their wrong, no wrong could have been done to them.
WASHINGTON (AP) — Hundreds of U.S. government employees – including some with sensitive jobs in the White House, Congress and law enforcement agencies – used Internet connections in their federal offices to access and pay membership fees to the cheating website Ashley Madison, The Associated Press has learned.
The AP traced many of the accounts exposed by hackers back to federal workers. They included at least two assistant U.S. attorneys; an information technology administrator in the Executive Office of the President; a division chief, an investigator and a trial attorney in the Justice Department; a government hacker at the Homeland Security Department and another DHS employee who indicated he worked on a U.S. counterterrorism response team.
Are these cheaters trustworthy, or fit to serve in the government? No. I can understand, sympathize and to some extent accept, the spontaneous, unintended passionate adulterous affair that is neither planned nor sought. It is not, at least, premeditated, and that is a mitigating factor. This conduct, using AshleyMadison.com, isn’t motivated by love, but by a desire to betray. I don’t want government officials who are in the habit of betraying others. If they will betray their families, why would they hesitate to betray me?
UPDATE: Attorney Jay Wolman explains the strong class action case AshleyMadison.com users now have.
39 thoughts on “The Ashley Madison Files”
This does beg a very important question.
How many members on the site were actually scammers? It would not surprise me if three-fourths of the people on the site were scammers.
“They included at least two assistant U.S. attorneys; an information technology administrator in the Executive Office of the President”
-now of ALL the dumb people on God’s great planet, this “technology administrator” has to be one of the dumbest. Probably a marxist appointee of our dear leader.
But honestly we are so screwed when government employees can act the way they have for the last 8 years and get away with it or promoted (so the problem becomes someone else’s). What people don’t seem to understand is that being a good steward of your own capital is hard enough. When its someone else’s not only will they not be good stewards of it, they will allocate it in a fashion best suited to reward the allocator. We humans are made of mostly water and we always take the same path as water.
Disgusting web site, but in todays world it does seem to elicit nothing more than a shrug.
I don’t think their economic proclivities are relevant…
All people are broken and given over to lust and violence.
“By land and women are men lost.”- Maori proverb.
I have no sympathy for those that get caught cheating however, the assumption that large data dumps, attributable to some scummy website that was hacked, are actual users could lead to other hackers using their own stockpiles of information to create a new form of ransomware.
Assume that the hackers of Target decide to contact the people for whom they have their data and suggest that they will be named in the Ashley Madison hack unless they pay up -How would you defend yourself? We live in a world that pays homage to the scurrilous, is quick to condemn based on the presentation of unsubstantiated evidence, and likes to feel superior when the mighty are knocked down a peg or two. We had better understand that with technology we are all subject to having our lives destroyed by criminal hackers that find new ways to exploit our data and our fears.
As an example, I recently got a call stating that the IRS was filing suit against me and that I should call a number to get more information on how to protect myself. They had my name and phone number – very easy to get. I know its a scam but how many others would call out of fear that the IRS was going to really sue them. Many – because such scams work.
Identity thieves, thieves of information capable of ruining lives and others of this criminal-ilk I consider to be just as heinous as arsonists. Regardless of the ability to mitigate the damage of their crimes, the crimes are so life ruining, I wouldn’t argue against someone advocating they be locked away forever if not worse…
In Europe, this would be nobody’s business. /sarcasm
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There are three groups in this triangle of scum, and Jack only really described two, although he mentioned the third.
First, the hackers, who broke the law and doxxed 30 million people. This is similar to the Romney recording, the Sterling tapes, and the first few PP videos in that while the act of recording and releasing the information is unethical, once the information is known, it’s impossible to ignore. And so yes, these hackers should be found and prosecuted, if possible.
Second, the users… Who despite all the spinning in the media, aren’t ‘innocent victims’, they are people who paid money to become part of a membership list designed specifically to foster cheating on your spouse. This is a divorce attorney’s wet dream, and I think will be fuel for a constant parade of job losses for months.
Third, the website. Ashley Madison, completely separate from its mission statement, was a pile of crap. There is an outstanding lawsuit, alleging fraud on AM’s part (Shocked! Shocked an Appalled!). The lawsuit alleges that AM’s user base is about 95% male and a vast majority of female accounts were sock puppet accounts, which attempted to display parity. But that’s historical: On the subject of this leak, the hackers got the information weeks ago, AM knew that their information had been compromised. The threat was made, AM knew it was legitimate, and they let this happen. A site that prided itself on security was not only not secure, but once they had been caught with their pants down, made the conscious decision that allowing this information to be released and being sued into obscurity was better than just shutting down and calling it a day. More, this wouldn’t have been possible if they’d actually followed through with their policies. After users had pangs of guilt, AM charged the users a fee to dump their information, a large portion of the CC’s in these data dumps came from users who had paid that fee, AM took the money and retained the records anyway.
Which one didn’t I cover?
The website, you seemed to come at it from the angle that a website for illicit hookups is unethical, which is true, but to expand; this website has operated on a business plan comprised of fraud, extortion and a fundamental disrespect for its clients.
I always wondered who used a site like this. This is an unethical site. You have to give them identifying information and your credit card. This is not smart. I remember when Ross Perot was derided and condemned in the press for saying that if he found a top executive had had an affair, he would fire the person because “If his wife can’t trust him, how can I”?
The point of this site is that ethics DOES matter. It just amazes me the large groups of people in this country who insist it doesn’t. They continue to fall into the same trap when they trust someone they know is unethical, and then get burned because the person acts unethically.
I suspect a lot of people in Internet cafes in Lagos used this site.
Correction–the article on the Legal Satyricon is by yours truly.
Yikes! I’m so sorry—didn’t know Randazza had such distinguished guest posters! I’ll fix!
Correct me if I am wrong (I have spent 30 minutes searching your site without success), but didn’t you post something about fans at a baseball game alerting another fan that the significant other was cheating (they spied some text messages that were being sent.
I recall you saying that that behavior was not ethical. But, when it is done to hundreds of people, as in this case, your position is that 1) the hackers should be prosecuted, 2) its good they hurt Ashley Madison, and 3) the “victims” don’t deserve sympathy.
If I am remembering your post correctly, these positions don’t seem consistent.
The hackers are doing something illegal and, rightly or wrongly, where someone should expect privacy. The fans at a baseball game were not acting illegally nor should someone texting in a ballpark expect privacy from the people sitting two and three feet away. That’s where I would draw the distinction.
I have no idea about this website, but if someone were to engage in such an activity, even if promised secrecy, I guess I would go through the steps of using money orders and dummy g-mail accounts for an added layer of protection. Thankfully that’s a problem I won’t have to worry about.
Why are they not consistent?
First of all, they aren’t analogous. Someone texting in public has no expectation of privacy, and what they did was a crime.
Second, by saying that the hackers should be punished, I thought it was clear that I think what they did was unethical. I didn’t say it was good that they hurt Ashley Madison. I said that it is good that Ashley Madison got hurt.
Suppose a mad vigilante kills Casey Anthony or O.J. That’s wrong, that’s unethical. Am I sad that either had their miserable, murderous lives ended? Not one bit. Put it this way: If they were both squashed by a falling piece of space debris, I would say: “What luck! The world is a better place!”
you did do that piece, right?
I thought you said the people at the baseball game were being unethical because they should not have inserted themselves in the relationship. The onus was not on them to out a cheating spouse. And, they don’t know what kind of damage they could be doing, or what kind of danger they could be putting the cheater in.
There, you seemed to be showing sympathy or concern for the cheater.
Here, you are not. That is the inconsistency (which, I admit, is based upon a vague recollection of a post you may or may not have written that I have been unable to locate).
You’re misremembering the post. First, it was an Ethics Quiz, which means, by definition, that I am not 100% committed to a particular resolution. Second, again, it’s not analogous. I wrote…
As i wrote earlier in the post, there are possible explanations for the text that are innocent or justified. There is no excuse for trolling to cheat using A-M.
Back in another life I worked a second and third shift in computer operations. We would have considerable down time and, quite naturally, some male oriented reading material would be available – yes, we bough Penthouse and Hustler for the articles only.
One of our betting pastimes was to create letters for their forums. We would bet on whose letter(s) would be published. I would say every other issue had one of our specially constructed letters.
How much of that is on Ashley Madison? I have no real sympathy for the site or the users of the site and certainly not for the hackers. Seems they all have a lot in common.
Beyond the hackers, the users and the website, there’s a fourth group of people who are affected by these disclosures: the wives and husbands of the users. They are suffering a very public humiliation of their own. Does anybody have any sympathy for them?
For better or worse, it was possible to register any email address on the site and no confirmation was required. That means that a minority (probably a tiny minority) of the emails there could have been victims of a stupid joke, but it gives an out to the majority of users who signed themselves up for the site.
More proof that the security of Ashley Madison is crap.
Did any of those subscribers ever stop to think that a company which peddles the ultimate dishonesty as a lifestyle would itself be diligently honest in their own dealings? Once they’d made their pile from guys whose brains hang from between their legs, why not sell their files and really cash in on the way out? I don’t know if Ashley Madison actually came to that point or whether some free lance hackers got there first. Regardless, this would likely have happened from one source or the other. Sexual obsession will drive people to do the most idiot things imaginable. Laws were certainly broken in the publication of this information, but it’s just as well that people know who they are. Those who would be involved with this are in no way deserving of a position of trust or respect; in public or private concerns. I also noted that the disgraced former figure of Reality TV- Josh Duggar- is listed among the subscribers.
Oh dear. So much ready judgment and so little sympathy for the complexities of life. Of course the ideal is two loving partners, committed to each other and their family. And of course there is plenty of wretched betrayal. But there are plenty who have stayed in lonely unfulfilling relationships to keep their promise to ‘provide for and protect’ and to keep a home for their children. For such of my and previous generations, the ‘ethical’ rules were to ‘show up’, ‘pay up’ and ‘shut up’. And many of them did. Some of them found a little glimpse of joy elsewhere, but stuck to their family responsibilities …. because that was their duty.
The hackers were cruel. How dare they seek to judge.
Oh, nonsense. The hackers were wrong, because hacking is wrong. We are absolutely right to judge critically anyone who accepts the premise promoted by AshleyMadison: Life is short, so be irresponsible and cheat….and pay us to help.
“But there are plenty who have stayed in lonely unfulfilling relationships to keep their promise to ‘provide for and protect’ and to keep a home for their children. For such of my and previous generations, the ‘ethical’ rules were to ‘show up’, ‘pay up’ and ‘shut up’. And many of them did. Some of them found a little glimpse of joy elsewhere, but stuck to their family responsibilities …. because that was their duty.” YUP. That’s how you do it.
And the alternative is cowardly and wrong. Don’t get married and make commitments you aren’t prepared to keep. That’s called being ethical.Don’t expect to be called that if you can’t meet the standard.
Hell, I knew a couple who had an agreement to separate for quite some time, but held off until their kids grew up and could basically take care of themselves (from what I’ve heard, the two are still on cordial terms with each other).
If a spouse gives informed consent for her partner to use AshleyMadison to hook up, then there is no ethics breach. And such cuples aren’t hurt by the hack, either. Wanna guess how many A-M clients fall into THAT category?
I suppose as an ethicist standing regularly in judgment over your fellow man you will not relate well to “Judge not that ye be judged …”. However, Jesus’ words to those set to stone the adulteress “Let he who is without sin cast the first stone …” should, I suggest, be somewhere in your ethics manual, even if just as a footnote.
Read the Rationalizations, AW—that’s one of them, and you might read your Bible too, because Jesus never said not to judge conduct.
Lazy, anti-ethical comment, and ignorant too. Here, learn something:
I really detest the content of your comment, which is usually used by those wanting to avoid just criticism and accountability. I would no more engage AshleyMadison than sell secrets to the Iranians or rape my dog, and I am absolutely qualified and justified in applying the same standards to others I apply to myself.
I will say one thing about this – while the cheaters don’t deserve remorse, there are some factors to consider here too. Michael, in the first comment, notes “scammers,” which is probably a great number of them.
We should also note spammers – those guys who copy and paste email addresses from random places and use them, or their variations, to sign up and create bot accounts to scam others.
Out of morbid curiousity, I checked it out and one of my defunct email addresses showed up on there. Granted, I checked a server that showed whether or not there was actual activity (mine was negative, meaning a scammer copied and pasted my old address). This kind of thing (spam/scam) had happened before with this email account, so I deleted it. This was years ago.
It’s really easy for scammers to find old email addresses. It might be worth it to check it out. Especially from what Michael said above, it seemed like there were about 3 times as many email addresses as actual users. Just a heads up.
And it’s “the gays” that are destroying the family. Pish posh.
They have competition from other kinds of degenerates.
Someone has to explain to me sometime how gays can destroy straight families.
By legally denigrating it to the point of worthlessness.
Denigrating it worse than say, Kris Jenner? Any Kardashian? Donald Trump? Artie Shaw? Liz Taylor? Michael Jackson? The Clintons? Huma and the Weiner? Henry the 8th? FDR? Thomas Jefferson? Jack Kennedy? Any of the Kennedys? Charlie Chaplin? Jerry Lee Lewis? Bluebeard? Charles Laughton? Kurt Weill? Clark and Loretta? The Duggers? Jon and Kate?
The family is a lot more resilient than you give it credit for, and it is far more endangered by straight families than gays. In fact, can you name a gay family that has done anything to denigrate marriage?
A late post, but Gizmodo analyzed the site usage data from the data dumps. It seems that between 0.05% and 0.1% of the active users were women. That means that 99.9-99.95% of the people messaging and chatting were men. The media is wondering how they could be messaging and chatting with so few women. I will suggest that the answer is easier than that. The easiest explanation is that Ashley-Madison is not the site it is purported to be. The men are messaging other men and this site is primarily a men seeking men site.
i want to publicly appreciate the effort of firstname.lastname@example.org for helping me hack my partner’s whatsapp messages without touching the target phone in less than 24hrs and my partner did not find out..he is fast and highly reliable..You all can also contact him for all sorts of hacking[whatsapp,kik,facebook,password recovery,chat histories,grade upgradee.t.c].just tell him Linda reffered you…he would be willing to help you.Goodluck.
Surely if your trust level has broken down so badly with your “partner”, breaking into their phone will not restore it. Perhaps the ethical choice would be to have a conversation and consider a separation.