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Inside the Eternally Wild Story of the Ashley Madison Hacking Scandal | #hacking | #cybersecurity | #infosec | #comptia | #pentest | #hacker


Originally appeared on E! Online

On July 13, 2015, Evan Back walked through the door of his Toronto office and immediately sensed something was wrong.

Normally people would be milling around, drinking coffee, getting ready to tackle the Monday ahead. Instead, he remembered, there “was a strange, weary, uncomfortable silence.”

When he switched on his computer, he understood.

Nine years ago, Back was VP of sales at Ashley Madison, and the dating site that catered to married people looking to have affairs had been hacked over the weekend.

“The promise of security and anonymity and guarantee and safety was just something we said,” Back recalled in the recent Netflix docuseries Ashley Madison: Sex, Lies & Scandal. “It wasn’t something we did.”

Amit Jethani, former director of product for the site, concurred.

“Every department had to get creative because there was no real playbook for running a service like this one,” he said in the series. And though security was frequently discussed, shoring up the system kept falling by the wayside. Everyone knew a hack “would have been catastrophic,” he added. “The hope was that it wouldn’t happen.”

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But as anyone who couldn’t resist the siren song of schadenfreude in the summer of 2015 remembers, it happened. And the aftermath was nuts.

Obviously there was egg on the face of the company with the motto “Life is short. Have an affair.”

Ashley Madison, website, wedding ring hand

Carl Court/Getty Images

Yet the scandal is far more remembered for the bold-faced names who were subsequently identified as Ashley Madison account holders (or alleged account holders, as some who were publicly named denied ever signing up) and the massive amount of judgment that ensued.

The Netflix series comes less than a year after the ABC News/Hulu documentary The Ashley Madison Affair and serves as a reminder of two things: Some of the sleaziest moments in our culture benefit from a little hindsight. And there’s always another layer to be peeled.

Here’s what happened when Ashley Madison got hacked:

The Rise of Ashley Madison

<p>The Rise of Ashley Madison</p><p>The Rise of Ashley Madison</p>

Getting the Word Out

<p>Getting the Word Out</p><p>Getting the Word Out</p>

Ashley Madison Gets Hacked

<p>Ashley Madison Gets Hacked</p><p>Ashley Madison Gets Hacked</p>

The Hackers Mean Business

<p>The Hackers Mean Business</p><p>The Hackers Mean Business</p>

Ashley Madison Caught With Its Pants Down

<p>Ashley Madison Caught With Its Pants Down</p><p>Ashley Madison Caught With Its Pants Down</p>

A Peek at What’s to Come

<p>A Peek at What's to Come</p><p>A Peek at What's to Come</p>

The Search for The Impact Team

<p>The Search for The Impact Team</p><p>The Search for The Impact Team</p>

They Really Meant Business

<p>They Really Meant Business</p><p>They Really Meant Business</p>

Naming Names

<p>Naming Names</p><p>Naming Names</p>
<p>"I am certain that the account in question is not mine," Hunter Biden, who was still married to first wife <strong>Kathleen Buhle </strong>at the time (they divorced in 2017), said in a statement after his name turned up. "This account was clearly set up by someone else without my knowledge and I first learned about the account in question from the media."</p><p><button class=
<p>Duggar, who is currently <a href="https://www.eonline.com/news/1387672/josh-duggar-to-remain-in-prison-until-2032-after-appeal-in-child-pornography-case-gets-rejected" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:serving a 12-and-a-half-year prison sentence;elm:context_link;itc:0;sec:content-canvas" class="link ">serving a 12-and-a-half-year prison sentence</a> after being <a href="https://www.eonline.com/news/1312786/josh-duggar-found-guilty-of-receiving-and-possessing-child-pornography" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:found guilty of receiving child pornography;elm:context_link;itc:0;sec:content-canvas" class="link ">found guilty of receiving child pornography</a>, didn't directly acknowledge the account but <a href="https://www.eonline.com/news/688297/josh-duggar-admits-to-cheating-on-wife-anna-and-viewing-pornography-i-have-been-the-biggest-hypocrite-ever" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:admitted to being unfaithful;elm:context_link;itc:0;sec:content-canvas" class="link ">admitted to being unfaithful</a> to wife <strong>Anna Duggar </strong>in the wake of the leak. They had four children then and now <a href="https://www.eonline.com/news/1309900/anna-duggar-announces-birth-of-7th-baby-as-husband-josh-duggar-awaits-child-porn-trial" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:share seven;elm:context_link;itc:0;sec:content-canvas" class="link ">share seven</a>.</p><p><button class=
<p>Taekman admitted to having an account but denied ever actually cheating on his wife, and the parents of two remain together.</p> <p>"I have to say, I'm very proud of our relationship and I think we've come a long way," Kristen, who was on <em>RHONY </em>from 2014 to 2015, <a href="https://people.com/who-is-josh-taekman-kristen-taekman-husband-8642322#:~:text=Kristen%20and%20Josh's%20family%20has,their%20kids%20Kingsley%20and%20Cassius." rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:told;elm:context_link;itc:0;sec:content-canvas" class="link ">told </a><em><a href="https://people.com/kristen-taekman-19-year-marriage-john-taekman-stronger-than-ever-a-decade-after-ashley-madison-scandal-exclusive-8415148" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:People;elm:context_link;itc:0;sec:content-canvas" class="link ">People</a> </em>in 2023. "We are stronger than ever. Maybe I'm back to prove everybody wrong and break all those silly myths about <em>Housewives</em> marriages, because despite what everyone probably thought, we're still happily married."</p><p><button class=
<p>Ashton, now a Ninth Judicial Circuit Court judge in Florida, admitted during an <a href="https://abcnews.go.com/US/casey-anthony-prosecutor-jeff-ashton-admits-visiting-ashley/story?id=33265082" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Aug. 23 press conference;elm:context_link;itc:0;sec:content-canvas" class="link ">Aug. 23 press conference</a> to using his personal credit card to sign up out of curiosity two years before the hacking. And, he told reporters, he never met anyone in person or broke any laws.</p> <p>"I was wrong," he said. "I was taught that when you do something wrong, you stand up and you say you did." Sometimes he accessed the site from work, he said, but only using his private computer. </p> <p>"I hope the public will judge me on my 35 years of service," he said, "and not a bad mistake."</p><p><button class=
<p>The Raders, meanwhile, <a href="https://www.eonline.com/news/1402265/who-are-sam-and-nia-rader-meet-the-couple-at-the-center-of-netflixs-ashley-madison-docuseries" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:participated in the Netflix series;elm:context_link;itc:0;sec:content-canvas" class="link ">participated in the Netflix series</a>.</p> <p>Sam recalled confessing to his wife that he had an Ashley Madison account over lunch at Chili's at the Dallas Fort Worth airport before they took off for a family-friendly vlogger convention in Seattle.</p> <p>But he initially lied to both Nia and all their fans when he explained in a YouTube video, his wife by his side, that he had the account but he had otherwise remained faithful.</p> <p>In reality, he said in the series, "I was keeping a lot of secrets from Nia, and the secrets went a lot deeper than Ashley Madison and a lot further back."</p> <p>They temporarily lived apart and went to counseling after the debacle, the parents of four said in the series, and remain together. </p> <p>"I'm not angry at Ashley Madison, definitely not angry at the hackers," Sam told <a href="https://www.netflix.com/tudum/articles/ashley-madison-sex-lies-scandal-sam-nia-rader?utm_source=mediacenter" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Netflix's Tudum;elm:context_link;itc:0;sec:content-canvas" class="link ">Netflix's Tudum</a> after the series premiered. "I was already on a horrible path when Ashley Madison was advertised to me. Of course, it’s frustrating that they didn’t keep my data safe, but I just see it as the Lord exposing me and bringing [me] out of the darkness."</p> <p>Added Nia, "It's still shocking to me that things like this exist." But, she noted, "I believe that marriages can be healed. It's worth fighting to fix your marriage."</p><p><button class=

The Fallout

<p>The Fallout</p><p>The Fallout</p>

Word to the Wise

<p>Word to the Wise</p><p>Word to the Wise</p>

Room at the Top

<p>Room at the Top</p><p>Room at the Top</p>

Ashley Madison Survives and Thrives

<p>Ashley Madison Survives and Thrives</p><p>Ashley Madison Survives and Thrives</p>

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