The theft of millions of users data from the affair-arrangement site Ashley Madison by a group of hacktivists who call themselves Impact Team, should be a wake-up call to everybody that infidelity is not a cool thing and no secrets remain a secret.
And if there is one thing that the release this week of more than 30 million users' names, addresses and personal details, as well as GPS co-ordinates and their sexual preferences, highlights one glaring flaw of technology. And that is the internet is bad at keeping secrets, according to The Economist.
While the motive of Impact Team remains unclear, the group is threatening to release details of the 9.7-gigabyte encrypted file containing personal information of Ashley Madison users from their login details, payment transactions, names, street addresses, unless the site was taken down.
The hackers also claimed that Ashley Madison and its parent company, Avid Life Media, are running a scam and denounced the site for alleged "fraud, deceit and stupidity." They claimed that most a huge majority of the users are men, who have to pay to access its service. Impact Team also claimed to be on the high moral ground and told those whose name were exposed to "learn your lesson and make amends".
True enough, Time reported that at least 15,000 on the Ashley Madison accounts are registered to the .gov and .mil domains that host government and military email accounts. It's easy to suspect that not all these government-related email address are authentic users of the affair-arrangement site.
The data released by Impact Team is a treasure trove for journalists and activists who are expected to further dig into it to look for names of popular individuals, particularly celebrities, politicians, business leaders, sports personalities, etc.
It could also expose employee who have used their work emails accounts for a service that has nothing to do with their company's business interest.
"The danger of using work email for personal business is that, if there's some kind of legal issue that comes up at your workplace involves having to investigate emails, then every single thing you've done with your email work address is fair game," Will Schwalbe, co-author with David Shipley of SEND: Why People Email So Badly and How to Do It Better, told Time.
Anthony Oncidi, a Los Angeles-based labor and employment attorney at law firm Proskauer Rose, agrees and said the law is on the employer's side on this case. "Courts have more or less unanimously determined that an employee who uses his or her work email for personal communications extinguishes an expectation of privacy," he said.
Aside from threatening their career, the exposure of Ashley Madison's users' information has far more reaching implications. The data breach could destroy families if a spouse learned of his wife's or her husband's infidelity.
Ashley Madison's database contains very sensitive information and its theft should serve as a wake up that people should not be tempted with a false promise or "risk-free" and secret fun. Sticking to one partner is always the safest and best option.