Nauki afere Ashley Madison

Strinjam se z zapisom v The Economistu. Nauka nedavne afere Ashley Madison, kjer so hekerji ukradli in razkrili podatke o skoraj 39 milijonih anonimnih uporabnikov spletnega servisa za organiziranje “seksualnih zmenkov”, sta pravzaprav dva. Prvič, da razkrivanje teh zasebnih podatkov ne koristi nikomur, razen naslajanju rumenih medijev in širjenju hipokrizije, medtem ko lahko uniči zakone in kredibilnost vpletenih posameznikov. In drugič, da online podatki niso varni in da morajo vsi – posamezniki, predvsem pa ponudniki – razmisliti o bolj varnih sistemih “hranjenja podatkov”. Kar je zabeleženo na internetu, je praktično javno. Ne samo facebook, ali spletno nakupovanje, pač pa tudi vsebine, po katerih spletno brskamo.

Some think Ashley Madison’s users have got what they deserve. But this data breach could have far more public and visible consequences than previous heists, such as the theft of customer data from retailers, tax records from America’s Internal Revenue Service, or even security-clearance data from the Office of Personnel Management. Marriages will be destroyed, reputations shredded and hypocrisies revealed. People may lose their jobs. Celebrity magazines and gossip columnists will have a field day. There will be much discussion of modern attitudes to marriage and fidelity. But perhaps the greatest significance of this episode is that it illustrates, more vividly than ever before, the woeful state of internet security.

It would be wrong to blame technology for human failings, but by removing friction from existing activities—order a cab with Uber, buy a book from Amazon, summon a song via Spotify, find a date on Tinder—it can subtly steer people’s behaviour. Ashley Madison’s sales pitch, emblazoned on huge billboards, was that the anonymity of the web could make having an affair easy and risk-free. Its website (“Over 38,920,000 anonymous members!”) offers a three-month money-back guarantee and is festooned with logos and icons emphasising trustworthiness, security and discretion. Such promises were evidently irresistible to the site’s millions of registered users—and to the hackers who have revealed just how hollow these claims really were. No doubt some people signed up on a whim, while going through a rough patch in a relationship, or while drunk. In the past, the mere contemplation of infidelity left no physical traces. But now millions of people’s thoughts and deeds are open to public scrutiny.

The truth is that the internet is bad at keeping secrets. The theft of personal information from large companies and government agencies has become so routine that most such breaches are quickly forgotten. For most people, it is merely an occasional inconvenience. If your credit-card number is stolen, you can get another one; if your password is compromised, you can change it. Identity theft and fraud are more troublesome. But every time another data breach is greeted with no more than a collective shrug, companies’ decision not to devote more attention to data security is vindicated. The Ashley Madison breach is different, because it threatens to destroy families and end careers. Avid Life’s security seems to have been no worse than that of many other companies, but its database contains information far more sensitive than mere financial details. If its theft proves to be the wake-up call that encourages companies to start taking security more seriously, then at least some good will have come from this sorry affair.

Vir: The Economist

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