UNITED STATES August 29, 2015: Scientists theorize that about 65 million years ago, a huge asteroid smashed into our planet, causing vast waves to course across the oceans, igniting runaway wildfires and sending plumes of ash into the air that blotted out the sun, bringing on an endless winter. The result of this event was the extinction of the dinosaurs, one of the most vibrant and exotic species of life on Earth. In an opinion piece for CNN, Wall Street Journalist Jeff Yang, predicts that the Ashley Madison hack of the online adultery marketplace Ashley Madison by the aptly named Impact Team may be an extinction-level event for privacy as we know it.
The initial consequences were bad enough. Once the names were exposed to the world, it was revealed that thousands of public figures were among its paid members, including disgraced reality TV star and conservative family values icon Josh Duggar.
But consequential effects of the breach will probably be far greater as a result of many opportunistic coders creating online tools that allowed anyone to search their network of email addresses to check if their friends, family, partners and spouses used the website.
These tools turned a laborious search focused initially on celebrities into a simple process implicating individual private citizens. The most notorious of these engines — now voluntarily shut down by its creator — gave people the ability to automatically compare their Gmail contact lists to the website’s database, to instantly see if anyone they corresponded with by email was an Ashley Madison subscriber.
These fires could run unabated for months, continuing to end relationships and destroy lives in the process. Divorce lawyers are celebrating and there have already been unconfirmed reports of several suicides by people implicated in the leak.
But the long-range results of this privacy assault will change our lives most is that it has opened the door to giving publicly available tools to the average citizen enabling them to have the ability to search for not only their names but those of others.
Because the Ashley Madison debacle has brought data invasion to the masses and crowdsourced it. It’s no longer faceless corporations, famous figures or powerful government institutions whose privacy has been assaulted. Most of the millions of Ashley Madison members are ordinary people, engaged in a shady but absolutely legal (and apparently, commonplace) activity. And the subsequent rapid deployment of publicly available tools that allow not just the media, but everyday individuals, to search for their own names or those of others, has established what will inevitably become a pattern.
There will be copycats. This time, the victims were wannabe cheaters. Next time, the target might be rehab centers, churches, foundations, political campaigns — or Planned Parenthood.
Now we have to adapt to what is essentially a post-privacy world. It’s survivable, if you wake up and pay attention. Everything you ever said, did or shared potentially could become public.
And if you happen to feel a sharp, sudden chill spreading across the digital landscape, it’s nothing that security experts haven’t been predicting for years. So when are you going to care about privacy?
If you think or know that your business identity or information has been compromised you need professional help. Contact AssetSearchPro.com. We can help you with this important service.
Being knowledgeable about the specific nuances of the numerous information brokers and their databases is critical for anyone dealing with identity information. An expert investigator who is adept at accessing this data has a broad range of important information at his or her fingertips. However, one must have both the knowledge and experience required to access the full scope of the information network.
Go to www.assetsearchpro.com or call (800) 775-6132.
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