While Ashley Madison is hardly a pillar of the Fortune 500, or a traditional small market company for that matter, it should serve as a wake-up call to companies of all shapes and sizes. The fact of the matter is, we are witnessing the destruction of a company and countless lives due to a data breach. And the scary thing is, it can happen to any company.
The digital damage is staggering. The Hackers targeted two categories of information released in subsequent online dumps. The first data set included user account information including email addresses and user names. The second dump consisted mainly of Ashley Madison internal emails regarding business conduct and strategy. While not effecting consumers, this second data dump was just as devastating. It revealed, among other things, that Ashley Madison charged its users $19 to delete all account information. Apparently, this did not happen. Second, internal emails among Ashley Madison reveal executives apparently planning to hack into the networks of its competitors. Third, it turns out that Ashley Madison was full of fake female profiles likely created to entice new members and facilitate recurring charges. That’s enough criminal and civil liability to keep armies of lawyers busy for decades.