This morning, as I gave out medications, the patients were watching “Live with Kelly and Mike” on TV:
Like Kelly and Mike above, I feel compelled to thank Ashley Madison (“AM”) for giving me, free of charge, the opportunity, nay, the irresistible invitation to make fun of them today. Comedy GOLD! Thanks, AM!
If you’re one of AM’s 37 million customers, wow. It sure is starting to look like that might have been a bad call. Good luck! Please accept our sympathy, sympathy from the rest of us who are SO, SO glad we’re not you! As reported on every news outlet on the planet, it seems, if you’re a member, your juicy secret sins are one very small step from becoming extremely public. Credit card numbers, preferred positions, fetishes, anatomical stats, sexy (and perhaps embarrassing) photos, who knows? I’m not a member, so I can only guess. Those AM ads (“Life is short. Have an Affair”) always made me feel a little bit like a fuddy-duddy guy, the well-behaved married putz watching all the cool kids having fun around the pool. As of today, I feel much better about it all. I do!
As it turns out, all you 37 million users out there have volunteered to trust your credit score and privacy to 1) Hackers, and 2) AM, the corporation those hackers say must close down, or they’ll expose all their customers. They’ve even published samples, I’m told. Users now have to count on hackers respecting your privacy, and/or a corporation willing to commit suicide out of respect for your privacy, or security folks whom hackers have badly humiliated, over and over… Ouch! Imagine just how much new business divorce attorneys have booked today, on a “just in case” basis? Did I mention how glad I am I’m not you (That would be “SO”)?
Let’s review. If you look at AM’s home page pictured above, you’ll notice a few surprisingly funny items there, other than that discreet lady whom your spouse may be viewing very soon (You can click on the picture to go to the sight, assuming it’s still up):
1) Ashley Madison received the “Trusted Security Award,” or paid someone to create a not-so slick-looking sticker for such a thing. I’d guess an unpaid intern. Either way, this award’s merit, at this point, post-massive-hack might be considered questionable. I’m no expert.
2)) “100% Discreet Service.” One word response: hacked! See item 1.
3) “SSL Secure Site” – see item 2.
4) “100% Like-Minded People” : by far the must plausible statement on the page: I picture regrets, fear of exposure, financial planning around divorce, etc., etc. Lots. (“SO” glad!)
5) “Ashley Madison is the most famous name in infidelity and married dating…” Now we’re back to wow. Good luck trusting the most famous name in infidelity to respect your interests: the same folks with whom you’ve trusted your credit card data and all those juicy secrets…
I looked at a few of the seemingly thousands of pieces on this topic. How could I not?
From Wired, a quote about the hack from an AM corporate spokesperson: “The current business world has proven to be one in which no company’s online assets are safe from cyber-vandalism…” They sure didn’t put THAT whopper on the home page next to all the security brags! I wonder why? How’s your trust level now? Try this on for size: the hackers state they’re angry with AM over “a dishonest offer from the company to delete users’ information for a $19 fee, when in fact that information was still kept in [company] servers. Too bad for those men, they’re cheating dirtbags and deserve no such discretion… Too bad for [AM], you promised secrecy but didn’t deliver.” (“SO” glad!)
Wired also report on an AM corporate statement about the hack. It reassures us that they’ve “been able to secure our sites,” now that the user data has already been stolen. Wired also describes corporate efforts to use copyright laws against the hackers… I hear hackers find that copyright law very intimidating. OK, that’s just not true, is it? I’m no expert, but if I were trying to sound on top of the situation, I’d… shut my corporate mouth until found a far more competent team than the one they’re fielding so far. They’re bad. I’m talking Red Sox bad!
As an aside, I’m certainly glad AM doesn’t sell condoms! Imagine all the unexpected pregnancies! Actually, for all I know, they DO sell them, they DO offer the same level of quality they do with user data security and public relations, and the next wave of failed condom lawsuits is right around the corner. Who nows: the hackers may already have a list of the litigants!
Wikipedia describes AM as a Canadian based service whose slogan is “Life is short. Have an affair,” launched in 2001 with over 124 million visits per month, ranked #18 among Adult sites. If you don’t believe rumors that porn is the dominant activity on the internet, by the way, consider: 124 million hits a month and they’re only number eighteen! Here’s what struck me most, though, about the Wikipedia article: AM’s Canadian? Wow, I would have guessed Los Angles, perhaps, but Canada?!? Turns out, they’re edgier than I ever imagined, those Canadians! Good for them! Well, sort of, you understand…
Then there’s this article: Ashley Madison hack could expose 37 million cheaters. I haven’t read it: I can only take so much absurdity and scandal in one sitting. In only mention it because their graphic seems so apt:
I call this great photo “Doh”!
In closing, I’m no expert on healthcare IT, but my decades as a heavy user show a consistent pattern. The entire industry lags behind other IT: IT basically anywhere else. It’s slower, clumsier, buggier, more bloated and disorganized: you. Every time I use healthcare software, it feels like I’m travel backwards in time at least ten years. Today, in HIT, is 2005 at best. It’s a jolt! The only reason massive healthcare hacks didn’t start sooner? Clearly, this non-expert guesses, because no one was trying very hard. There’s no other reasonable explanation. That’s changed, the sharks have smelt the lucrative blood in the water, and we now see bigger health care hacks, more often, every passing day. Huge! Hackers now own tens of millions’ people private health and financial information, having stolen it from “secure” heath care companies. Sounds just like AM today.
The response I’ve seen? Bland corporate statements telling us not to worry, they’re on top of the situation, roughly as credible as honest as those by AM above. Efforts to protect companies, shareholders, and management far exceed all efforts to protect customers put together: that’s standard operating procedure in the corporate world.
What else have we seen as the hacks accelerate? Pressure to accelerate purchasing of these systems, to enter all patient information (clinical and financial) and integrate them into one massive network across all of health care…
There are advantages to such a project, clearly. I’ve dealt with enough doc handwriting and illegible FAXs to see that. But consider: what do you to expect will happen to all your health history, all your credit and finance information that, trust me, health care firms eagerly gather?
Do you really think you can trust them to keep it private?
Do you think they even know HOW to do it?