After everything that happened last week, there’s only one thing I could possibly talk about today here on the Htet Tayza blog. I’m referring of course, to the Ashley Madison hack that sent shockwaves around the world.
Rise of hacking
The development of the internet gave the humanity the tools it need to facilitate incredibly technological and cultural advances. Yet progress often brings new issues to the fore, and with the rise of the internet came hacking. This is the practise of gaining unauthorised access to data in a system or computer.
Hacking is becoming increasingly popular; a 2012 Sophos Security Threat Report showed that 30,000 websites are hacked every single day. This means that hacking has become a major concern for companies around the world. If hackers gain access to a firm’s private information, they can release the personal details of thousands, even millions of their customers, and inflict irreparable damage on said business’ reputation.
The Ashley Madison hack
The perfect example is Ashley Madison; an online service for people who want to cheat on their partners. A few weeks ago, a group of hackers who called themselves the Impact Team claimed that they’d stolen the personal information of millions of Ashley Madison users, and threatened to make them public.
The Impact Team finally made good on their threat last week. Wired reported that the hackers posted a data dump of 9.7 gigabytes worth of Ashley Madison-related information to the dark web. The dump contains details of 33 million Ashley Madison users including names, addresses, phone numbers, encrypted passwords, and email addresses, as well as roughly 15 million .mil or .gov email addresses.
Security expert Graham Cluley has explained why this is so disastrous for so many people around the world. He was quoted by the BBC saying: “It’s easy to imagine that some people might be vulnerable to blackmail, if they don’t want details of their membership or sexual proclivities to become public. Others might find the thought that their membership of the site – even if they never met anyone in real life, and never had an affair – too much to bear, and there could be genuine casualties as a result.”
Dangers of hacking
Ashley Madison has announced that they’ve decided to work with the FBI and various Canadian law enforcement agencies to determine how their systems were breached. The company said that “we are actively monitoring and investigating this situation to determine the validity of any information posted online and will continue to devote significant resources to this effort.”
The efforts of Ashly Madison may prove fruitful but in reality, the damage has already been done. The users of Ashley Madison will never trust them to safeguard their personal information again. This really shows the true danger of hacking to modern society; one incident has the potential to disrupt and damage the lives of millions of people.