04 Ago Cybersecurity Lessons Learned From The Ashley Madison Hack
So it’s easy to imagine that perhaps a few thousand real women had accounts, and replied to almost 10 thousand messages after being prompted. But only about 1500 of them ever clicked the button to open their inboxes.
What all these fields have in common is that they measure user activity. They show what happened after the account profile was created, and how an actual person used it by checking messages, chatting, or replying to messages. They measure what you might call signatures of real human behavior.
There are definitely other possible explanations for these data discrepancies. It could be that the women’s data in these three fields just happened to get hopelessly corrupted, even though the men’s data didn’t. Or maybe most of those accounts weren’t deliberately faked, but just represented real women who came to the site once, never to return. When you log into your Ashley Madison account, you’re prompted to answer messages before you visit your inbox.
This strengthened the pattern I’d already seen with the ashleymadison.com email addresses — obviously fake accounts were overwhelmingly female, and numbered in the tens of thousands. But the second most popular IP address, found in 80,805 profiles, was a different story. This IP address, 127.0.0.1, is well-known to anyone who works with computer systems as a loopback interface. To the rest of us, it’s known simply as “home,” your local computer. Any account with that IP address was likely created on a “home” computer at Ashley Madison.
The identities of most of those millions of cheaters are still cloaked – for now. The Impact Team has released a few customers’ names and details to prove it actually had stolen the data, but it appears that Ashley Madison has had some success in taking down links and slowing the data’s spread. It’s yet unknown whether – or how or when for that matter – the identities of the 37 million cheaters will be revealed. Either way, we’re left with data that suggests Ashley Madison is a site where tens of millions of men write mail, chat, and spend money for women who aren’t there.
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Interestingly, 68,709 of the profiles created with that IP address were female, and the remaining 12,000 were either male or had nothing in the gender field. What I discovered was that the world of Ashley Madison was a far more dystopian place than anyone had realized. This isn’t a debauched wonderland of men cheating on their wives. It isn’t even a sadscape of 31 million men competing to attract those 5.5 million women in the database.
Only a paltry number of women’s accounts actually looked human. Yet another field, reply_mail_last_time, showed a similar disparity. This field contained the time when a member had last replied to a message from another person on Ashley Madison. In a database of 85% men, you’d expect any IP address to belong to about 85% men. So it’s remarkable to discover that about 82% of the accounts created from a “home” IP address are female.
Instead, it’s like a science fictional future where every woman on Earth is dead, and some Dilbert-like engineer has replaced them with badly-designed robots. , though nobody put forth any evidence for such an enormous number. So I downloaded the data and analyzed it to find out how many actual women were using Ashley Madison, and who they were. After the Ashley Madison review, it is necessary to say that the service leaves a positive impression and gives plenty of opportunities for polygamy people to “have a treat without cheating”.
Keep an eye out for unusually large iTunes charges – in-app purchases can range from $19.99 to $99.99. You can view these past purchases in the iTunes Store, but specific details may be locked behind your partner’s Apple ID, even if Family Sharing has been enabled. Ashley Madison is a paid service, so if your significant other is using it, there’s bound to be evidence hiding in your financial records. Cheating with Ashley Madison, it seems, is incredibly expensive to do.