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Ashley Madison, Half Moon Bay, and the Future of Privacy

The Point of No Return

You may or may not have heard about the Ashley Madison hacking scandal, but if not then let me summarize here: A multi-national website named Ashley Madison, which was specifically for the purpose of having “affairs” or for cheating on your spouse, was hacked last month. The hackers released a small portion of the 40 million member names a month ago, and then on Tuesday released the entire databases, including one database with member ID’s and email addresses, and another with billing records for the period from 2008 through to the present.

So to summarize: We’ve got possibly 40 million “adulterers” out there with their records now in the semi-public domain.

As a technologist, and for reasons I’ll explain in a moment I thought that this might be a watershed event, one that hasn’t really garnered the attention that people should be giving it. So on Wednesday I went into the dark web (the place where the database had been uploaded- it is not available (yet) on the internet) and downloaded the entire 10 gigabytes of data. After that I decided to search the billing records for any record with 94019 in it. (Numerous sites have popped up offering the ability to search for an email address to see if it was on the list, but I took the approach that no one on the list would use an email address that was known, so instead of searching the members database for an email alias I took the more painstaking route and searched all the records for actual billing- which included (for each record) name, address, last four of the CC, amount billed, and a few other details. Not only were people on this list verifiably identifiable, it is somewhat indisputable that they used the service- and paid to do so as well…)

What I found after searching through the millions of records completely blew me away. No less than 64 individuals in the 94019 area code not only went to this site, they paid at least $49 each (and in some cases thousands) to exchange communications with other people they wanted to have an affair with. That total of 64 included three women, and numerous individuals who are at least somewhat prominent in the community. (I’m not going to go any further than that in identifying people- this is not about outing people for what they have done in private- it’s about what this means to our community and to our nation…)

Thus the point of this thread isn’t to detail the individual choices made in private by people here in HMB, it is instead to place this entire affair into context: Let’s say you were trying to get a contract with the City of Half Moon Bay- and you knew about one of these individuals (no, I’m not saying anyone working for the City is on the list…), just think of the leverage you would have over them. Now repeat that leverage a million times throughout the country. Or another possibility: You want your father-in-law to loan you $500,000 so you can build your new house. And you tell him that if he doesn’t you’re mother in-law will get the bad news. Or you want your neighbor to give you an easement you’ve been asking for over the past ten years- and you tell him… Or you’re mad at your ex-spouse and you want them to give you more visitation with your children, and if they don’t…

The variations are endless and horrifying to think about.

In round numbers 15-20 million people in the US have just been exposed to the very real possibility of blackmail- in fact if I had to guess I’d assume that it is already happening. And to me this is a horrifying and ground-breaking event that we will look back on as a turning-point in the progress of technology.

Which brings me to the rubicon we just crossed: We’ve all known for some time that little that we do online is really private despite our attempts to make it so. We have known the government is looking at our data, but we figured as long as we kept it legal we’d be OK. No more can we trust that to be the truth. ANYTHING you do online, whether with a secure paid service, or in the hinterlands of the dark web, all of it can be found and exposed if someone with an axe to grind (not necessarily against you) wants to invest the time and effort to do so.

With the release of these databases we have crossed into new territory- that is only going to become more prevalent as each day passes. In the not too distant future there will be literally no secrets- nothing that you can assume someone, somewhere, doesn’t know, or can’t find out. I guess the moral of the story is don’t do anything at all online that you wouldn’t want your spouse, neighbor, children, or community to know about- because based on recent examples the chances are good that someone, somewhere, is going to know about it, and if they do it is at least possible that the info you wish to keep hidden is going to end up in hands you would rather it didn’t.


Comments

It wasn't me!!!! I wasn't there when that was posted!!! My dog used my computer!!!!

Ashley who?????? Never heard of her!!! My boss made me do it!!!!

Never mind, it was me...........


>>You want your father-in-law to loan you $500,000 so you can build your new house. And you tell him that if he doesn’t you’re mother in-law will get the bad news. Or you want your neighbor to give you an easement you’ve been asking for over the past ten years- and you tell him… Or you’re mad at your ex-spouse and you want them to give you more visitation with your children, and if they don’t…<<

Those sound like illegal acts of coercion. The difficulty is in having someone criminally prosecuted or bringing a successful civil suit.

Web Link

What's kind of funny is how few females were actually on the site compared to males cruising it. Apparently the company chummed the waters with thousands of fake female accounts to keep the guys on the hook. So, not only were lots of men unsuccessful, but they got busted too!


>>>Those sound like illegal acts of coercion. <<<

Completely illegal.

>>>The difficulty is in having someone criminally prosecuted<<<

Practically impossible to prove unless the blackmailer is stupid enough to send an email form their own account making their demands. And in order to bring a prosecution the person being blackmailed has to fess up to the problem- which many will not want to do.

Another way of looking at the magnitude of this data dump is to look at how many actual marriages are going to be tested- and many will likely fail, as a result of what just happened. Not only will the two spouses know, they will also think about the community- and who in the community is aware of their "indiscretion..."

The damage done is frankly incalculable right now. Maybe someday we'll know how much damage has been done, but for right now it's all a hypothetical.

dce


David,

Yes I really think this is one of those watershed moments but we might not realize it yet. The database is being parsed by many entities and I think it is pretty clear there are people in government, military and corporations where the type of leverage you talk about could have dire consequences.

So though what has made the headlines so far is people like Josh Dugger - there is another post that I read which I totally agree with where religious hypocrites are telling us about family values and holding themselves us to better while doing something else behind the scenes – is making the news right now. There is widespread damage to come.

Sony, Ashley Madison and our own government show us how hard it is to keep anything truly private.

Good post. Thanks, Terri


Thanks Terri,

It is clear that the people in the media pouring through the data are looking for celebrities and other high-profile people to out- that' what sells newspapers.

What's even more disconcerting to me though is the latent harm which will be percolating down from this data release possibly for years. Consider that you are an employer and you find out that someone who has detailed and confidential information is also on the Ashley Madison client list. What the hell are you supposed to do?? Your competitors could try to leverage that person's vulnerability to gain secrets from your company that would hurt you or even ruin you. But if you fire them because of their presence on the list you are setting an extremely dangerous (and possibly illegal) precedent for your company.

Or you are an employee who wants a promotion, and you find out that the person above you holding you up is on the AM List. So you drop a discreet email to the boss and voila- you're promoted- and the person you just outed not only sees his family destroyed, he's out of a job!!

And even more cruelly: I hate to even write this, but I am certain it will become a reality sooner or later: What about the people who will attempt, and possibly succeed at taking their own lives because of their inability to handle the consequences of being outed??

Honestly, the more I noodle over this the more concerned and worried I become about what the long-term fallout is going to be- to businesses, individuals, families, communities, and basically everyone in the US. This is going to be an epic disaster...

dce


>>the more I noodle over this the more concerned and worried I become about what the long-term fallout is going to be<<

It's the same degradation of society that's been going on for years now. The same tolerance for cheating and lawbreaking and lack of morals. Why should this be any different?

If anything, this revelation will, IMO, cause more people to cheat with the excuse of how many other people are doing it. They'll just be more careful not to get caught.


Is it possible that the "disaster" should rest on the shoulders of those who used the website to seek gratification instead of those who exposed them?

If all the data were made public would the danger of blackmail disappear?

Do folks who use the internet to seek extra marital sexual consort have a right to privacy?


>>>If anything, this revelation will, IMO, cause more people to cheat with the excuse of how many other people are doing it. They'll just be more careful not to get caught.<<<

Uff, I don't think for a moment that Ashley Madison caused the number of people who are interested in having an affair to change one bit. (Nor the resultant: How many people actually had affairs...)

People don't cheat because its the popular thing to do. They do it for a wide variety of reasons, and in spite of the potential harm they might suffer if they are caught. But the only primary reason they engage in the behavior (in my opinion) is because they are sure they won't get caught. (Or they were sure until this past week...)

I don't see any tolerance in the public for cheating, and I sure as hell don't think more people are having affairs than in past decades. What I think is tragic about this is that an act of questionable (but highly personal) morality, which should only realistically affect someone's marriage, now has the potential to destroy entire lives and families. No matter how you cut it that's going to end up as a grand tragedy, and out of all proportion to the foolish and immature act itself.

dce


>>>Is it possible that the "disaster" should rest on the shoulders of those who used the website to seek gratification instead of those who exposed them?<<<

All reasonable questions Mr. Bills.

I think this is more complex than that. Consider one of my examples above- where the employee is blackmailed, and as a result his company goes out of business because their competitive advantage has been mooted. The resultant is fifty families out of income, and lost health insurance as well, all of which will trickle down to the three year old kid of the admin who was struggling to survive on one paycheck- who falls and injures himself, but because his mom doesn't have insurance fails to act quickly enough in getting him to the hospital and he dies- because as it turns out he ruptured his spleen in the accident. (Agreeably an immensely contrived story, but well within the overall range of possibilities when spread among millions of families and workers...)

So should the guy who wanted to get laid, and who thought the worst thing that could happen was that his wife would find out, should that guy be on the hook for setting off a chain of events that led to the death of that child?? (I have literally no idea- I"m just pointing out the complexities of what we're facing...)

This isn't really about blame at this point- it is really about what harm is going to come from this data dump, and how it is going to affect our society at large. And as I've said- I think the impacts are going to be unfortunately ginormous.

dce


I'm ahead of my time apparently. From a story that just went up at the Guardian:

"Companies are being urged to identify employees who could be blackmailed into revealing sensitive market information following the Ashley Madison data dump.

After hackers leaked 37 million email addresses used by people who had accessed the Toronto-based adultery website, there are fears that blackmailers will start demanding money to keep the details of extra-marital affairs secret.

Stephen Coty, security expert at IT security firm Alert Logic, who has analysed the leaked data, said that the much more significant problem came from employees being compromised into revealing confidential details about their employer’s activities."

Full Story here: Web Link


>>No less than 64 individuals in the 94019 area code not only went to this site, they paid at least $49 each (and in some cases thousands) to exchange communications with other people they wanted to have an affair with. That total of 64 included three women, and numerous individuals who are at least somewhat prominent in the community.<<

So DCE if you have the goods on any nemesis of yours they're probably quaking in their boots about now. I don't envision you using that information but do you mind saying what prompted you to dig for it?

I guess I would really rather not know that information, personally. It's not my business and who knows the circumstances anyway? Maybe they're just holding the marriage together on the surface for the children.


>>>So DCE if you have the goods on any nemesis of yours they're probably quaking in their boots about now.<<<

Probably. But despite having been defamed in intensely personal ways during the campaign I can promise everyone unilaterally that the info I have will stay with me. Whatever harm is going to be caused by this unfortunate sequence of events I'm not going to add to it, especially since there are a fair number of people on that list who I know either firsthand or through others.

>>>I don't envision you using that information but do you mind saying what prompted you to dig for it? <<<

Three things I guess. First- an ability to actually get to it and review it for myself- which I know the vast majority of people don't really have. I don't generally trust the media to parse stuff like this, so I was curious as to what was actually dumped. Second: A genuine curiosity from an anthropological standpoint. I figured maybe five or ten HMBers would be on the list at most, and as it turns out I learned something- and I was completely wrong. One in every 100 males in HMB was using Ashley Madison (at a minimum...). Third was my innate grasp of the fact that this had the potential to influence entire communities through blackmail, and I guess I was interested in seeing how much at risk we were really at. As it turns out our community is much more at risk than I originally anticipated would be the case.

Which is probably why I decided after a couple of days of thinking about it to share the basic facts here. I don't know if this will turn out to have been a good decision or a bad one, but I think it is important that we start thinking about how we are going to deal with the fallout that this is going to leave behind- sort of like the coming winter- that's another one I think we need to start thinking carefully about.

dce


Thanks for the thoughtful reply DCE. How do you think your relationships will change with the people whom you know on the list? They know you know and you know they know you know etc (sound like an episode of Friends).

So even if you had a valid personal curiosity as explained with the three reasons listed above, what also prompted you to publicly divulge your new knowledge?

Isn't it just very awkward now? Or is it good to have a bit of upper hand? I'm not knocking it... if I were treated the way some people treated you I'd probably revel in it to tell the truth.

No need to answer. Mine is just a curiosity from a psychological / societal standpoint. Best wishes.


I said >>even if you had a valid personal curiosity as explained with the three reasons listed<<

That didn't come out well. I do believe your reasons. Sorry.


Good questions Uff- that was one reason I spent two days chewing on whether or not to address the issue publicly. And as I said right up front; This may or may not be a good decision in the end, but it was the best one I could come up with for the moment.

As to how I will view anyone who is on the list: No differently than I would anyone else. If you think I don't have embarrassing things in my life that I would rather people not be aware of you're nuts. Thus I am no different than they, and I don't view them in any way other than being stuck in a difficult position. For the most part I am concerned both about them individually, and most importantly their families. Thus the best thing I can do for them (and for me) is to simply think about them like I always have: A flawed and decent individual who is capable (like all of us) of doing great things and intensely stupid things, and who is thus no different than me or anyone else...

It should be clear by now that I fear that the price they are collectively going to pay for their indiscretion far outweighs what they likely deserve, and I think what we owe them and their families as a community is compassion, support, and a complete lack of judgement or anything less than our understanding of how capricious life can be. As I pointed out in the initial post: I think this is the new normal, and we are going to have to learn to adapt to this new normal in many ways. Which is why we will look back at this as the beginning of a new technological reality- one that will profoundly change how we go about our daily lives.

dce


So as it turns out I'm not as detail-oriented as I thought.

I left out all of 2013.

Adding 2013 into the mix and now we've got 69 total people in the 94019 Zip code, still three women, the rest are men.

Not a huge change, but still worth noting...

dce


66 men and 3 women? Holy Cow, those women must've been busy! That, or a lot of gay guys use the website.


"It’s generally only men who go to such lengths to get sex. For women, supply exceeds demand"

That is a quote from an opinion piece titled "Ashley Madison has a stupidity factor – men"

"Then there’s the stupidity factor, and I’m sorry but it’s predominantly male stupidity. Unlike women, men were charged to enter (and indeed exit) the site, which might have given them a small clue as to what was going on. Which hinged on the same thing that’s always gone on – that it’s generally only men who go to such extraordinary lengths to get laid, because women simply don’t need to."

You can read the rest of the article here Web Link


I just checked and was happy to verify that none of my email addresses were in the Ashley Madison database. But they did apparently get my IP address. Ba-dum-ch.


Wink, When you say 69 are you referring only to paying customers? Total user accounts appear closer to 530 for 94019.

Interesting concept and ideas.


Ha... Wink. Sorry Wonk. Autocorrect.


So Wonk's apparently not the only one who knows how to use "the Dark Web".


Oh no. I haven't a clue. Someone did all the work for me. I just pulled up a map that someone else put together.


Web Link ..... Why you shouldn't try to search the A.M. files.

Web Link .... Trustify. To see if your own cheatin' heart could be busted.


Re: the dark web. It's not difficult to access. Many have done so without realizing it.

I make the following comment for dramatic emphasis, not directed at anyone....especially not the original poster.

Aside note: I believe I am going to start posting with a general disclaimer, like email. * nothing in this message should be....xyz"

Again; dramatic illustration, not difficult to access the dark web, consider what pedophiles get away with. The dark Web finds you, if you're looking for the right stuff.

My actual thought when I read this topic, just based on general discussions I've had and read here is, this reads like a thinly veiled threat. Not saying it was meant to, just that in here; stated this way, it's suggesting that we might want to consider that decisions are being made and not made due to blackmail? Or,going forward, you're planning to use information against people?

Can AM activity be reverse engineered? Meaning if I have a ss# and can run a credit check, don't I have access to the last 4 digits of someone's cc info?

This could turn out to be way cooler than Mr. Robot or CSI Cyber!


I think the threat to AM users isn't thinly veiled. It's pronounced and overt. It's from a great variety of possible sources. People who have been outed are in some real trouble.

But I don't think a discussion regarding this reality makes the threat greater or represents anything other than a discussion of a very sad reality for many people. In other words, there is a huge threat to AM users, but probably not from Wonk who just posted a discussion about it.


I am a "the glass is half full person". I think there is a positive side to these Ashley Madison website disclosures. It will bring out the heavy secrets people hold and should discuss with their significant other. It could be ultimately healing for some relationships that need counseling. And, it is only fair for the innocent partner to know if their mate is possibly bringing home a STD.


This is an interesting take on the privacy issue:

Web Link


Poor kids. "My dad says your dad is a cheater."

The best advice if you happen to learn anything about your neighbor is MYOB.

It's rarely appreciated when sanctimonious busybodies stick their noses into other people's business with the idea that it will be good for them. All it will do it ruin more relationships. Yours, theirs, and a stable home for the kids.


From the link provided by Curious:

"But that which we have chosen not to make public, is not. The things we choose to keep private, are rightly and only private (unless they are unlawful). You may have an Ashley Madison account. You may spend ungodly amounts of money on hiking equipment. You may have a really heavy period. You may have posed naked in a photo for your boyfriend or girlfriend. You may be secretly in love with your boss, or with a barrista at Starbucks. Your mom may have pictures of you learning to go potty. There may be a book containing the poems of Rilke by your bedside. You may take meds for depression."

While I agree with Seal to a point (that those who commit misdeeds should be held accountable) this ain't really about accountability. Impact keeps trying to frame it as such, but it's a big stretch at best. This information wasn't secretely leaked to the spouses of cheaters, it was thrust into the public sphere.

If we're okay with this secret being shared, how can we expect any privacy in our lives? There are people out there that will swear up and down that they have nothing to hide and nothing that they are embarrassed of. I wonder about them more than most. But those who are willing to take an honest inventory can admit that there are things that they don't want others to know. And now, more than ever, that information is stored digitally and available to someone with sufficient technical know how.

So as been pointed out, that abortion 20 years ago or STD from college or psych issue after a loved one died suddenly run the risk of being exposed for one reason or another. If this is fair game, which of your secrets aren't? If you're okay with this where is the line of what you aren't okay with? Is it the same for others as it is for you?

I'd like the right to keep certain things private. Not out of some nefarious impulse or desire to cheat on my wife or to cover up some wrong doing, but because life is complicated and everyone has silly little secrets.


P-Mar, you haven't been here long enough to know that I don't play that way. In my estimation Justin hit the nail on the head: People are already going to be finding this data for themselves. All I did was pre-empt the discoveries by doing some analytical research and sharing the results of that research. As to accidentally accessing and searching the dark web, well, not quite something that can happen accidentally, but certainly not rocket science either...

For an explanation of where the numbers came from see above. I have no doubt that there were far more accounts than there were actual users (I.E. Who paid for the chance to speak with other women.) Thus the total I am citing only includes individuals who actually have a transaction record on the billing system- in other words they bought and paid for the services the site provides. (They are/were active users of AM's services...)

As to the male to female ratio- I am of the opinion (based solely on nothing at all) that AM likely was scamming customers. They claim 5 million female members and 40 million male members, which I guess is reasonable, but based on my survey (And I should also offer that I extended it last night to Montara and Moss Beach and El Granada- and the count is now over 100...) the actual number of real women was much lower than that. Or maybe not. No idea.

As to the dark web itself: Nope not even close Surf/Justin- anyone can use it. I'm just the only one who (apparently) did. It is reasonable to note however that the vast majority of people have no idea what Tor is, or how to search the dark web, or of the risks inherent in going there. (Did you cover up the video camera on your laptop before plunging in??) In any case it doesn't matter now. I found a site this morning where the entire data dump is available on the internet. I'll leave it to others to find it, suffice it to say that its out there if you want to find it badly enough. (Although even if you do get the databases figuring out what to do with the files themselves will be its own challenge if you don't already know how to unzip them and upload them to your SQL server...)

Not sure that answers all of the questions, had a busy night and morning and haven't been able to completely keep up since last checking in.

Regards,

Wink-Wonk


The best advice if you happen to learn anything about your neighbor is MYOB.

Exactly. Brava! I completely agree. I learned lang ago not to judge my friends or report-in to a husband that his drunken wife grabbed my butt at their party last Saturday night. Peopl do things they're ashamed of or not, but I don't have to be an enabler or a drama queen about it.

The fact that 95% of participants on AM were men is a bit of a red herring.

Journal of Couple and Relationship Therapy: Nearly 50 percent of married women and 60 percent of married men will have an extramarital affair at some point in their marriage. These statistics are nearly double what they were a short 10 years ago

Who do you think married men are having affairs with?

IT organizations which manage this sort of PII need to run several layers of security to adequately protect themselves from hackers. However, they had already made a bonehead workflow mistake on the site and any spouse could have easily checked on their SO. Their password reset page could be used as a means to validate a specific email address' existence in their customer data. Not a hack, really. More like a stupid pet trick. I go to that web page, enter my husband's email address and they tell me they have sent a reset email or that the account name was not found. This was true LONG before the site was hacked.

Ultimately, this will be a Puritanical schaudehnfreudenfast. Americans love to pull the wings off people for sexual indiscretions.


Justin, I didn't write about accountability. I was writing about making the best of a terrible situation some may have to deal with.


Schaudehnfreudenfest


As usual Justin comes through with the most thoughtful offering possible.

Justin- I agree with everything you say, but what I fear after this debacle, is that your desire to have some things be private is no longer possible- we've let that genie out of the bottle and there is no putting it back in.

Take that abortion you had twenty years ago. A completely forgotten event, but still in the records of Planned Parenthood. A couple of years ago they upload all their old records to digital (as many companies and agencies are doing these days) and someone from the radical right who wants to defund PP figures out how to gain access to the records.

And you know what happens from there.

I could come up with a thousand plausible scenarios in the time it would take to write them down.

It was not unreasonable for the men who partook in this charade to think that their data was not going to be revealed to the world by the very site they were paying to keep it confidential. In actual fact the path is incredibly convoluted, and in the end it required a person (or set of people) who were willing to do an unimaginable amount of harm- for reasons I'm not sure I understand yet.

In the last election someone here in HMB (we know who but won't say- for the benefit of all) posted intensely personal details about me and my wife, which, if true, could (and for those who saw the post probably did) have caused a tremendous amount of harm. So it is clear that if someone with a political agenda comes into information which can be used as leverage then they will use it- and our collective desire for privacy will amount to nothing at all.

Again I state here: I believe this event is going to go down in the history of technology as the equivalent of 9-11 in impact and scope. (No, I"m not equivocating 9-11 and this data release...)

We'll see I guess- I am glad to see that (for once) people are having an extended and respectful dialogue here- perhaps this will be another result of the debacle- TA will become a place for simple reasoned decency!!

dce


No need for SQL Server, MS Access would work fine. Download, unzip, parse, create table, run SQL queries - child's play.

I simply choose not to do it. MYOB is the best advice in this thread.


A. Anybody who thinks this is a harbinger of the deterioration of the human condition (I interpret, "It's the same degradation of society that's been going on for years now. The same tolerance for cheating and lawbreaking and lack of morals. Why should this be any different?"). Human condition is no different today than it was 2k years ago (or 5k!), or yesterday, for that matter.

B. Anybody who sees this as anything other than a wake-up call for the clueless who think they're "safely, privately doing their own thing" is kidding themselves.

and 3) If you aren't willing to share your idea/plan/action, DO NOT DO IT! Especially an online idea/plan/action.


Ha, John! I was reading recently (Jezebel I think) about how young people in early 1900s nyc could leave notes in shops around the city. The content of the notes is comical by today's standards. "Homely finishing school grad seeks male 20-30 for companionship and courtship." They would leave their first name and last initial and a specific post office in the city. Notes could then be left and picked up without overbearing parents having the ability to intercept and intercede.

It was called by many the ondoing of society. Apparently these notes would draw hellfire from the ground and cause the meltdown of the modern family and therefor all of society. The author compared this technological hellshock to the more modern bleating about how Tinder (or Grindr if you prefer) is on the verge of causing a social meltdown wherein families, jobs, and breathing will all just be replaced by thoughtless indescriminate sex.

Ashley Madison will not destroy the world. You're so correct that people cheating on each other is older than people.

What sets AM apart from a more traditional caught cheater is two things. First, and as you've clearly pointed out, is the stupidity of it. No one in their right mind would write down a plan to cheat on a spouse, so why in the world would anyone with half a wit plan an affair on a website knowing what all of us know?

Second, as was posted on another thread, the AM cheating is especially heinous. There is infidelity that happens in the moment, the result of passion. It doesn't excuse it, but I think we can all relate to it and when we see it we take time to remind ourselves how it's just as important to make the right small decisions as it is to make the right big decisions. Then there is the cheating that is premeditated. It isn't a clumsy plan formulated in passion, but a deliberate misdeed. I think of it like murder. If I killed someone because they hurt my kid, I'd probably have to go to jail, but it certainly wouldn't make me a public enemy. If I spent 6 years planning to kill my neighbor, well... You get it.

AM won't change the world. The hack of AM won't change the world. What will dramatically change the world is the implication of something so private being made so public because of a single file. A click of a button and the biggest secret of millions is now out there for all the rest of us to gawk at. In a year AM will be a name we can sort of recall, but only because there will be several more high profile data leaks of some other intimate data. Here's to hoping it's not yours. I certainly hope it's not mine!


"But despite having been defamed in intensely personal ways during the campaign..."

Says the guy who has been personally ripping apart the City Council majority for the last two years since he finally became interested in HMB politics.

Laughable.

Do you even own a mirror?


The last comment is worth ignoring. Just another anonymous charge with no supporting evidence.

Which is funny because this whole thread is about how evidence about everyone is just about everywhere. With the exception of our superficial friend I suppose.


Actually Supcha does a fantastic job of illustrating two important points:

1. He doesn't know the difference between putting up intensely personal detail in a public forum and fighting against the policies and actions of government. To Supcha they are one and the same.

and

2. In SupCha's world I got what I had coming to me. I stood (and continue to stand) against the Council majority, and specifically (during the election) against Rick Kowalczyk and Allan Alifano, and as a result someone posted incredibly inappropriate and potentially damaging material that is of no material value to the public, but which had the potential to harm me and my family. They did this solely to try to retain a majority in the Council. In Mr. Charm's world that is the way it should be- I got what I had coming to me.

If anyone ever wonders why I am working with such devotion to remove the majority from power they need look no further than those two points- both of which are clearly evident from Mr. Charm's post above.

Thank you Mr. Charm- I appreciate your assistance in illuminating why the ugly politics of the past in HMB must go. And thank you too for illuminating clearly how people of your persuasion and on your "team" will absolutely use this Ashley Madison data in exactly the same way.

For those who were wondering if this was a possibility in HMB you just got your answer.

dce


Back to the topic at hand-

Curious2 posted an incredible link earlier that I didn't get a chance to read until now. It's so relevant I'm going to link to it again here: Web Link

The basic premise is that none of us have any right to the information contained within those data dumps. It belongs to someone else, and so to look at it for any reason is not morally supportable.

I think this is an incredibly valid argument, except that it does miss one point: Even if I don't look there are others who are going to look- and who will almost certainly try to use the information contained within the data to their own ends. Again- use my own experience as a guide for why I believe this will happen.

The contradictions and logical/moral questions that this entire series of events has presented us with will take decades to resolve- if in fact we ever do. Of greater curiosity to me at the moment is how do we go forward- living our lives with some expectation of privacy, when in reality any such expectation is more like a delusion than and actually possible reality.

Frankly it's really depressing to think about. And if nothing else the lesson we can take from the AM affair is that such a data breach can hit any one of us at any time- and we are essentially powerless to stop it from happening. We can change our actions going forward, but for reasons I describe above- there are a multitude of sources for each of us which contain personal and private data, and we really have not a single jot of control over any of it.

Perhaps the way we will overcome this is to learn not to judge other people- whether our family, friends, neighbors, or community members. If no one cared (read: was interested in judging someone else to make themselves feel superior) then the information would be valueless- at least to the public at large.

Anyway the whole thing is really depressing to contemplate-

dce


Adding further fuel to the fire... (Of our ever-decreasing right to privacy...)

Web Link


And it's only just begun:

Web Link


Breaking news:

"Two Ashley Madison clients reported to have taken their lives after hackers published their details - Canada police"


BB: that proves it: idiots!


Read to the last sentence. (Evans is the Toronto Police Supt.)

The hack, in which some 33m profiles from the service were published online, has been the focus of extortion and phishing attempts. Among them are “hack checking” websites that compile the emails of the curious entered into them and then send malicious software to those emails.

Evans also said that a new scam, claiming to erase names from the Ashley Madison database in order to preserve users’ privacy, had sprung up in the few days since the hack.

“By clicking on these links, you are exposing your computer to adware, spyware, malware and viruses,” Evans said. “Multiple sites have now downloaded [the Ashley Madison user database] and are present. Nobody is going to be able to erase that information. There are confirmed cases of people trying to extort Ashley Madison clients.”

"There are confirmed cases of people trying to extort Ashley Madison clients."

And at least two people have already killed themselves (or appear to have done so...) because of the leak.

This is an absolute disaster unfolding in front of our eyes.


Proving once again the old adage "never bet against how low humans will sink to obtain money or revenge"


Philosophers On The Ashley Madison Hack: Web Link


The Ashley Madison affair strongly suggests that hackers aren't interested in what's on the server in Hillary's bathroom closet.

Phew! That would have been disastrous had they hacked it instead.


Frank- I have absolutely no doubts that Hillary's server was compromised. Probably by China and/or Russia, but trust that it was exposed- and I am certain they got to it...


John Duggar's Pastor during his sermon yesterday:

"Floyd then spoke about five guidelines people should follow when it comes to relationships and sex.

One of the most notable was the fifth suggestion, which mentioned keeping both husband and wife happy through "sexual contact," which may only be put on hold for "focused prayer." However, Floyd warned, if a husband or wife fails to keep his or her partner happy sexually they are opening themselves "up to the attack of the enemy.

"And that enemy is going to take your spouse away from you," he said.

"Both men and woman have their sexual needs met by someone, somewhere, somehow." "

Don't know what to even say to that one. (OK, one thought: Did you hear that all you wives out there?? Put out when your husband wants some or you'll be the one on the hook when he goes onto Ashley Madison to find it elsewhere!! Do these people even know that the word misogynist exists, much less what it means??)

The article that the quote was taken from is here: Web Link


>> Put out when your husband wants some or you'll be the one on the hook when he goes onto Ashley Madison to find it elsewhere!! Do these people even know that the word misogynist exists, much less what it means??)<<

But there is some truth to basic concept and it's not sexist. Generally men need sex to feel close while women need to feel close to have sex. Men tend to stray because they want more emotional contact which is expressed through sex. But it's not usually just about the sex.

Of course that's not everyone. YMMV.


Fantastic article by the guy who put up the verification on pwned for people who were concerned they had been compromised. He goes into a lot of details, Link is here: Web Link

On the difficulty (or lack thereof) to obtain and then parse the data the author had this to say:

From the article linked above:

"Many people wanted to inspect the data for themselves, but with no knowledge of Tor or how torrents work (let alone the ability to then decipher the contents of MySQL scripts), most were left struggling:

Can I check any of this myself using a Tor browser, which I do not know how to use?

I have downloaded the data but I can't really make any sense of it, or in fact can't even open some of it up as its too large

I have downloaded the dumps, but I am not very handy so I’m not finding anything relevant at the moment. I own a Mac and I don’t know how to open them, apart for using the standard txt editor and searching around.

I can totally understand the desire here but this simply isn’t data that’s consumable via your average person. Discovering it via Tor or downloading the torrent isn’t particularly hard, but actually parsing the files and combing through the personal data spread across multiple tables is no simple task. For your average person, setting out to try and do this poses another risk altogether…


wonk: again, my point exactly. Don't do it unless you're open about it, and don't do anything online you expect/need to be "private".

Totally ignorant folks experiencing a freedom they don't understand and trying hard to get to the finish (pun intended) unblemished.


OK, gotta ask this since it's been on my mind ... To all those who now have access to names on the database: doesn't it bother you that you're not supposed to have this data? It's basically -well, it is actually- stolen data and an invasion of privacy.

Even if you never use the information and never tell a soul, even your spouse, you're not supposed to know your neighbor's business, however scandalous. This whole story is so bad on so many levels.


One of the really strange things this story has revealed is that now, after all the information is in the hands of the public, the operators of the web site have agreed to forgive their $19 charge to remove your name from the list.

Now that is Chutzpah!!!!!


Careful, dce.

The verdict is still out whether downloading the database (which you confessed to doing) translates to possession of stolen property.

Web Link

Journalists probably have more security as far as releasing information regarding the data than you do.


Thanks for the heads up Foggy. I looked into the legalities before I went live with this and I am comfortable with the ground I am standing on. (As the two attorneys who weren't an AUSA spokesperson said in that piece.)

I've already removed and permanently deleted the databases- they were never on my computer hard drive for obvious reasons, (and my computer is also encrypted at the disk level...) and I have no intention of sharing or distributing either the route to obtaining them or any of the information contained therein. If I were going to share the data, or make it available for individuals to go through then I think I'd be on shakier ground, (both morally and ethically) but law enforcement in our world today has much better things to do than go around chasing people who are doing nothing other than examining data that is already accessible on countless websites...

>>>To all those who now have access to names on the database: doesn't it bother you that you're not supposed to have this data?<<<

Yes and no.

In hindsight I'd probably rather not know what I do, but it won't affect my approach to life either way, so from that standpoint I'd rather not know, but in reality I had literally no idea (or expectation) that the list would be so large. At the same time the list was put in the public domain and I had literally nothing to do with that. And in the end I think this is going to be an enormous learning moment for everyone. To the extent that this dialogue helps wake people up to the hazards and threats that are present regarding our privacy it will have been a worthwhile effort to start the dialogue off.

Perhaps the fact that there were so many subscribers located locally will help illuminate the fact that these are not bad people, nor are they all that uncommon. Which in turn might help everyone act and think a bit more reasonably going forward. Or perhaps not. Probably way to hopeful on my part, but it is what it is.

As I said way back at the beginning: I have no idea if starting this dialogue will go down as an error or a net positive. Either way there is no going back now...

dce


You wanted to open Pandora's box. Now deal with the mistake.


Surf- I sense a trend here. The later it gets (I.E. the more substances have been imbibed) the angrier you get. (Just my .02 as always...)

>>>You wanted to open Pandora's box. Now deal with the mistake.<<<

What the hell are you speaking about??


And you're being far too melodramatic (as usual). The published population of little ol' Half Moon Bay is 12,013, which is undoubtedly understated. If there are 69 "users" of AM, then that represents a minuscule 0.57%, or roughly 1 person in every 200. Let's quit forecasting global digital Armageddon. Find another bridge or something to worry about.

Simple facts are:

Mind your own damn business

Don't do anything you'd be ashamed of (especially on a computer)

Duh


Yeah, I like to get liquored up. That way, I'm only about two times smarter than you.

How obtuse can you be, pretending not to know what I'm speaking about? How many glasses of good cab have you had this evening? You yourself brought up the self-doubt - just go back and read your own post.


Well OK then!!

So we're clear: your numbers are correct- but you ignore the fact that 50 percent of them are men. (And of the number of total coastsiders there were four women- out of more than 120 for the entire coastside.)

So in very very round numbers we're talking about 6,000 men, and 60 men who had active paid accounts. (One poster has already referenced the 500 number for actual accounts via IP address, but I don't believe that is valid.)

In any case that's actually one out of every 100 men (+/- maybe 20 percent or so.) Hardly Armageddon, but surely surprising in and of itself.

As to what this event will mean to privacy- and our perceptions of it- I stand by those observations. And the fact that two people (that we are aware of) have already killed themselves over this release is all I need to know right now to know that this is a very big deal indeed.

As to Pandora's Box- you say in a post two above this one that it is no big deal, but in one above that you say I've "opened Pandora's Box, now deal with it."

Thus I am confused.

In any case this is a distraction from the topic in this thread, which is not your own antipathy towards me personally, but the greater revelation of what we thought was our privacy- and what it is going forward from here.

Cheers,

dce


Rather than worrying about outing those who willingly and knowingly created an account, and some might argue are now being held accountable, I'd be far more concerned with the threat of being "punked".

Let's say you don't like your boss, so you pose as him and use his email address to create an account at a website such as AM. When that website gets hacked and the wife checks the husband's email address and it pops up as a positive, guess what happens next?


More info on Ashley Madison:

"Hacked extramarital dating site Ashley Madison discussed hacking a competitor, according to emails released as part of the massive leak of the site’s data.

The leaked emails show that in November 2012, the site’s chief technology officer, Raja Bhatia, emailed chief executive Noel Biderman after apparently examining the security of the new dating section of online sex and relationships magazine Nerve.com and finding a security hole in the site.

“They did a very lousy job building their platform. I got their entire user base,” Bhatia wrote. “Also, I can turn any non-paying user into a paying user, vice versa, compose messages between users, check unread stats, etc.”"

Web Link

Galatians 6:7-8

Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.

For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting.


Its already happening:

According to security firms and to a review of several emails shared with this author, extortionists already see easy pickings in the leaked AshleyMadison user database.

Earlier today I heard from Rick Romero, the information technology manager at VF IT Services, an email provider based in Milwaukee. Romero said he’s been building spam filters to block outgoing extortion attempts against others from rogue users of his email service. Here’s one that he blocked this morning (I added a link to the bitcoin address in the message, which shows nobody has paid into this particular wallet yet):

Hello,

Unfortunately, your data was leaked in the recent hacking of Ashley Madison and I now have your information.

If you would like to prevent me from finding and sharing this information with your significant other send exactly 1.0000001 Bitcoins (approx. value $225 USD) to the following address:

1B8eH7HR87vbVbMzX4gk9nYyus3KnXs4Ez [link added]

Sending the wrong amount means I won’t know it’s you who paid.

You have 7 days from receipt of this email to send the BTC [bitcoins]. If you need help locating a place to purchase BTC, you can start here…..

The individual who received that extortion attempt — an AshleyMadison user who agreed to speak about the attack on condition that only his first name be used — said he’s “loosely concerned” about future extortion attacks, but not especially this one in particular.

Entire story here: Web Link


My apologies- I didn't put the entire quote inside quotes above and it may be read as thought the "I" referenced is yours truly.

Everything after the first line, up to "Entire story here:" is from the article.

My apologies for any confusion.


Another one- of a Bloomberg reporter who signed up ont eh site in 2011 for a story she wrote:

The story begins: "There was something odd about the text message when it arrived, a little before 2 p.m. on Sunday. "Hi" was all it said.

The number, from an 862 area code, was unfamiliar. I wrote back: "Hi who's this?"

Then came the creepy part. "A friend." Followed by, "I have found your name in a certain database and was wondering if you could help explain its presence there.""

Full story here: "Web Link


I just went to the Ashley Madison website to take a look- and on the front page, I kid you not, it says this:

"Over 39,645,000 anonymous members!"

Someone needs to tell them to update their homepage:

"Over 39,645,000 formerly anonymous members!"


OK, I thought the number of women on the site would be much lower than stated by AM, but even I couldn't have imagined this:

"Over 20 million male customers had checked their Ashley Madison email boxes at least once. The number of females who checked their inboxes stands at 1,492.

There have already been multiple class action lawsuits filed against Ashley Madison and its parent company, Avid Life Media, but these findings could send the figures skyrocketing. If true, it means that just 0.0073% of Ashley Madison’s users were actually women — and that changes the fundamental nature of the site. Ashley Madison wasn’t selling the ability to have an affair for any sane definition of the word. It was selling the fantasy of having an affair. It might not be morality of cheating on one’s spouse that brings the house down, but the perils of false advertising."

Link: Web Link


Fascinating thread.

But in all the many legal, moral and business/security issues brought up, I think one is being somewhat overlooked... the human carnage.

The jokes are great, and most folks don't have much sympathy for the AM users who have been exposed. But as with other Internet phenomena -- from child porn to cyberstalking to sexual blackmail -- innocent lives are being destroyed.

The people taking their own lives after being implicated are leaving behind devastated friends and loved ones... people who will never be the same.

And, in an even more horrifying twist, people are being framed by truly sick online individuals -- and a Texas police officer is one such victim: Web Link

I'll admit it... I was laughing when I first heard about this. I'm not laughing now.

And just as a PS... apparently not all the active participants were men: Web Link


Thanks Mike- I know there is a lot to read here, but I made the point numerous times above that this is an unmitigated disaster from a personal level on up. The harm that is being done to families, communities, and individual people is unimaginably significant.

In fact I predicted the suicides a day and a half before the first ones appeared- that's how obvious the human toll of this event was to me then, and now.

In the end Impact Team- and the fraudsters at Ashley Madison, will undoubtedly be responsible for dozens (if not hundreds) of deaths, hundreds (if not thousands) of family breakups, and irrevocable harm to the children of all these individual families.

My personal feeling is that they should collectively be charged with manslaughter for each and every death that happens- especially if the death was not of the AM user, but instead of their spouse or child.

This will take years to resolve- and the harm done will never be totally calculable. And the final irony: Based on the post I linked to above: It was all a sham. There were basically no women at all on that site- it was a complete con.

Simply amazing and tragic...

dce


The most hilarious revelation of the Ashley Madison Hack:

Web Link

It appears Wonk was right - there are no women on this site!


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