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Friday, August 21, 2015

The Wicked and The Righteous

This week has been a little chaotic. First, the hackers made good on their threat and released almost 10 gigabytes of data. The second leak was almost twice as big!

The data dump includes e-mail addresses, account details (like preferences/fetishes) and logins.

The caveat, of course, is that Ashley Madison did not verify e-mail addresses upon registration, so searching simply on this criteria might get you a false positive as anyone could use a fake account to register. And some people do things like that to cause others’ problems.

When I was in college one of my professors antagonized a student who filled out all these magazine subscription cards to nudie magazines and sex toy and trashy lingerie catalogs in the professor’s name, and sent it to his office (at a Jesuit college). The nuns running the mailroom were not pleased.  

Many a husband will use that excuse too. “No, honey, that was probably one of those clowns at the office trying to be funny. Those silly bastards!”

What will be harder to explain is the credit card transactions that include names, street addresses, amounts paid, and predilections… Only those smart enough to have used anonymous prepaid cards are walking around not sweating bullets.

Already repercussions have begun. The first American casualty is proponent of family values and Christian conservative Josh Duggar; many others will follow...

The coverage has taken a variety of routes: the possibility that government and military personnel may have been compromised and are in danger of being targets of extortion.

Others are advocating data Armageddon, if Ashley Madison can be broken into, what of the Pentagon or {insert terrifying alternative here}. Of course, we are all accepting the corporate minions telling us their encryption was impenetrable. There is evidence that employees had tried to warn management there was vulnerability in their system that was never addressed or patched.

Then there is the camp that are shaming the shamers, “Ermahgerd, how dare you enjoy the comeuppance of innocent philanderers?!” Surely, this cannot be what Martin Luther meant when he addressed simul iustus et peccator!

These stories warn that marriages will break down, divorces will happen, reputations will be lost, families will be broken, and children will be forever affected by this. This may be true, but I wonder if the writers realize that the people whose lives are about to be upended are partially responsible for their possible fate.

To me, following the story and all its repercussions is mostly research and some guilty pleasure—but it is all literary. I am fairly sure that this will not be the thing that causes the collapse of western civilization.

In the meantime, I look forward to the John Grisham bestseller (both the fiction and the non-fiction versions) of the massive class action that will come of this. Although what I really want is the Nelson DeMille comedy-thriller about the collapse of Stepford. Perhaps Michael Connelly doing homage to Tom Clancy and doing the military-themed thriller! I suppose Patricia Cornwell might do a mystery about the mounting bodies of sinners and a private investigator turned serial killer with delusions of Biblical executioner. I have no idea how King would write it, but I imagine he has been giggling for a month.

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