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Online security is one of our main concerns here at Upclick. In a world where a big percentage of all transactions (and dating) happens online, and most of us share our email and credit card information (and other private information) on a weekly or daily basis, the latest hacking story is raising big concerns.

By now, the entire planet has been made aware that a team of hackers calling themselves Team Impact has hacked Avid Life Media, a Toronto-based company known for the Ashley Madison, Established Men and Cougar Life websites.

What really happened?

The hackers first threatened to release all 37 million users’ private data including names, emails, addresses, GPS location, sexual fantasies and more.
This first warning from Team Impact was very clear:

“Avid Life Media has been instructed to take Ashley Madison and Established Men offline permanently in all forms, or we will release all customer records, including profiles with all the customers’ secret sexual fantasies and matching credit card transactions, real names and addresses, and employee documents and emails,” *

On july 20th, ALM issued a first statement* in response to the event. They declared that they were investigating and putting effort into removing the released information while continuing to operate their business.

A month later, Impact Team released their first data dump online along with a message entitled “Time’s Up”* referring to ALM’s failure to taking the site down. They also confirmed that they would keep releasing data until the sites are taken down completely.

You can check here if your email is compromised*: http://www.trustify.info/check

What now?

The two first batches of stolen data have been dumped online. They are available on many sites and the information has been confirmed to be real. Even though the site requires no email verification, the hackers have also released the last 4 digits of credit cards, real addresses and bank account details.

While ALM still hasn’t taken the site down, they have released a second statement* three days ago, claiming that they would continue to take action and put efforts into the investigation. There has been no mention of shutting down the site.

Noel Biderman, CEO of ALM, has declared that the information was most likely stolen by a former employee.*

In addition, many forms of online crimes are taking place following the event. Many people are reportedly receiving extortion emails asking for bit coins in exchange of preventing their data from being leaked.*

In the meantime, Forbes explains exactly how to access the information* :

Was it worth it?

When we compare this leak to the AdultFriendFinder leak* that happened just three months ago, the difference is that the hackers are not asking for money, and the damages will be not only superior from a monetary perspective, but also from a moral one. The victims will suffer public humiliation as well as privacy, reputation, life and financial damages. Divorce lawyers are expecting to profit big time from the event, while psychologists are worried about people taking their own lives.*

It appears that Avid Life Media was also processing 19$ payments as a paid-delete fee for removing all of the users’ private data, racking up to an extra 1.7 M in extra revenue.

What’s next?

Can we still trust the online world with our private information? After all, big and small companies are victims of hacking crimes every day. The difference with AshleyMadison is that the site’s premise and most important feature was confidentiality.

Impact Team did not try and profit from a leak that will undoubtedly have enormous financial repercussions on many marriages. Is this a lesson to take home or a reality-check against the way we perceive the world and our society?

Or is it the online world that's actually killing traditional relationships? Those are all questions that are coming up as the leak continues to dump data and the infamous site remains online.

At the end of the day, businesses may need to revise more than just browsing security and protection of information, but also the ethicality and integrity of their practices.

And for users, the lesson to take home is that private information should remain private, and the moment you input your data anywhere, there is always a risk for it to be leaked.

IMHO, the next big thing to worry about would be Snapchat. After all, the mobile application with a ghost logo claims to instantly and permanently delete all data sent between users once opened. But if that's really the case, then why is it worth 19 billion dollars?

Bottom line: Life is not that short, don’t make bad or risky decisions that you could regret for a very long time.