The Ashley Madison hack is a big reminder to all Web users: If you submit private data online, chances are it never will be fully deleted.
The hackers, who stole the data about a month ago and then posted it online last week, claimed in a statement that part of the reason for the theft was Ashley Madison’s fraudulent promise to fully delete users’ information if they paid the company a $19 fee.
The website is marketed to people looking for extramarital relationships. It purports to have about 39 million members.
The hackers said the company failed to delete the information even though it collected the fees. Toronto-based Avid Life Media Inc., Ashley Madison’s parent company, hasn’t commented on the hackers’ accusation.
It’s virtually impossible to exist in modern society without putting at least some personal information online. Many people can’t get through a day without using the Internet to shop, pay a bill or check their credit-card balance.
But before you hit “submit,” stop and think before giving up your personal information to any kind of website, said Michael Kaiser, executive director of the National Cyber Security Alliance, an industry-funded group that educates consumers about cybersecurity.
“Personal information is like money, and you don’t just give away your money,” Kaiser said. “In the environment we’re in right now, you have to value it and think about protecting it everywhere you go on the Internet.”
People also need to sometimes take a pass on convenience in the name of online security.
Many consumers like it when e-commerce sites have their credit card and other information on file, or when Web browsers automatically fill in forms with their name, address and other details, said Peter Tyrrell, chief operating officer of the data security firm Digital Guardian. Meanwhile, worries about data theft and loss have prompted companies to back up important information in multiple places.
But both practices increase the likelihood that information will be leaked or shared. And it means that even when a person thinks that their information has been permanently deleted, chances are there are still copies floating around somewhere.
And no matter how legitimate a company or website may be, people need to be aware that they’re rolling the dice every time they hand over personal information.
Source: http://www.dispatch.com/content/stories/national_world/2015/08/22/what-goes-online-never-goes-away-hack-shows.html by Bree Fowler