Ashley Madison Data Breach: Who will be the Next Victim?

Ryan Bhandari |

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On Monday, the popular dating website Ashley Madison, used to help married people find that special person to cheat on their special person with, was hacked! The information of many of its 37 million members has been compromised. Needless to say, there are 37 million individuals who are very anxious about the prospect of being revealed to the public, and importantly, their spouses. The hackers are attempting to blackmail Ashley Madison into shutting down its website, but so far, the website has refused to adhere to the demands. They have hired a team of top IT professionals to help them find the culprits responsible, but the users of the website aren’t convinced.

This isn’t the first time that a website offering this service has been hacked. In March of this year, the popular website Adult Friend Finder was hacked and the information of 3.5 million of its 64 million members was also compromised. Unfortunately, hacks seem to have become a relatively common threat in the United States, whether it is from domestic groups or even foreign governments. Hacking can cause a lot of damage, and moving forward, consumers should be ever-cognizant of the possibility that their information could be compromised.

The Hack that Changed Everything

In December of last year, Sony Pictures was poised to release The Interview, a comedy starring Seth Rogen and James Franco as goofy Americans tasked with assassinating the leader of North Korea. The Interview became a poster child for capitulation to terrorism when Sony pulled the movie from theaters after North Korea hacked the company and threatened terrorist attacks at theaters that were willing to show the film.

When Sony Corp. (SNE) agreed to pull the film from theatrical release, all hell broke lose. Politicians decried their move as cowardice and made clear that the government would never submit to terrorist threats. A slew of media personalities and celebrities echoed these sentiments.

Now there’s a valid to debate as to whether the hack actually caused Sony to pull the movie from theaters. Some think it was the threat of terrorism at theaters while others believe that North Korea managed to steal very important information from Sony that the company really didn’t want released. Whatever the true cause, the fact is that this scandal brought the idea of hacking into the forefront of American minds. It reinforced a fear of being hacked in the average American.

Hacks therefore became major news headlines, and Americans had something new to worry about.

Hacks, Hacks Everywhere

It seems like every week there’s a new hack, that hacking has gotten out of control in every facet of life. There’s considerable debate as to whether or not the amount of hacks has increased over time, though. It could very well be that there have always been plenty of hacks, but that the media has finally started paying attention. TIME Magazine created a listof all the notable hacks that have happened in the past couple of  years. The list includes high profile companies like Premera Blue Cross, Chick-Fil-A, the US Postal Service, Staples, Inc. (SPLS) , Kmart, P.F. Chang’s, Home Depot Inc. (HD) , and JP Morgan Chase & Co. (JPM) . Information stolen includes anything from medical records to credit card numbers, email addresses, names, and social security numbers.

It’s hard to predict which company will be next. All corporations, no matter how big or how small, have a vested interest in protecting the information of their customers, and this is particularly true for a dating website that helps married people have discrete affairs. So if you’re a manager at a company that your clients might be a bit embarrassed to be affiliated with, you should really do whatever it takes to make sure that your information can’t be hacked. 

DISCLOSURE: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors, and do not represent the views of equities.com. Readers should not consider statements made by the author as formal recommendations and should consult their financial advisor before making any investment decisions. To read our full disclosure, please go to: http://www.equities.com/disclaimer

Companies

Symbol Name Price Change % Volume
SPLS Staples Inc. 9.88 0.13 1.33 2,807,077
JPM JP Morgan Chase 83.44 0.18 0.22 8,482,090
HD Home Depot Inc. (The) 129.55 -0.13 -0.10 1,566,811
SNE Sony Corporation 28.17 0.03 0.11 279,672

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