Everybody has to have an Ashley Madison story, but…

by: Steve Bowcut, CPP, PSP

AshleyMadisonThe twittersphere is ablaze with tweets and links about the Ashley Madison breach, the data from which is now being dumped online.  Bloggers are wearing their fingers to the nub banging out stories about the breach and now, finally, it’s long awaited cache of unfaithful spouses.  

Researchers, and the term is used here loosely, are sifting through the customer account names looking for that golden nugget; each desperate to be first to come up with that high profile name that will draw readers to their exposé like flies to fresh dung.  

When the story first broke, about a month ago, it was certainly titillating and as newsworthy as any other data breach headline.  Data breach headlines are, however, becoming so commonplace it makes one wonder when we will stop reporting on them altogether.  But the titillation factor of this story brought new excitement to the mundane somebody-stole-a-bunch-of-credit-card-numbers news cycle.  It contained the promise of raising cybersecurity stories back to their glory days of months gone by.

But it seems as if something unexpected is happening.  Something that the the over-caffeinated and blearyeyed bloggers and tweeters could not have anticipated.  It seems as if the readers of said blogs and tweets are beginning to ask themselves if it isn’t the media frenzy that surrounds an event such as this that actually caused it in the first place.  

The question is, are we not party to extortion with our insatiable desire to consume information about the failings and weaknesses of others?  Are we, in fact, the weapon being held in the hands of those that steal other people’s personal information?  At what point will we become the “other people” that are being extorted?  Are we not putting ourselves at greater risk every time we consume ill gotten data?

One could certainly argue that if you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to worry about.  But how many of us really have nothing to hide?  Some poor behavior in college that was caught on film or video?  An ancient arrest record? Some small exaggeration on a résumé many years ago?  Maybe some fictitious claims from a nasty divorce?  You get the point.  Nearly everyone has something they would rather not be displayed in the public square to satisfy the cravings of those that feed on another’s misfortune or mistakes.  

So what do we do?  Just look the other way and refuse to read the craftily worded blogs and articles that are specially designed to catch our eye and play to our lower self?  Write letters to the editor complaining of an overabundance of sensational news articles?  Well, to each their own, but remember that in the world of online publishing each click, each page view, each comment, is a vote cast in the poll of public opinion.  Where ever you go online is tracked and monitored so that more such virtual paths can be created.  You are the consumer and the whole system is designed to give you exactly what you want.  The only way to stop something from being sold is to stop buying it.  

Just something to think about!

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Everybody has to have an Ashley Madison story, but… are we the weapon being held in the hands of those that steal other people’s personal information? http://goo.gl/F1sYIx

Posted by Brilliance Security Magazine on Thursday, August 20, 2015