Among recent Ashley Madison revelations, the first surprise was that there was actually a website dedicated to facilitating adultery – who knew? More than you’d think it would seem.
More disturbing was the revelation that thousands of apparently mind-numbingly stupid individuals thought to themselves “mmm I want an affair – I know, I’ll register all of my details with an online agency”. What could possibly go wrong…?
I’m sorry – I have every sympathy for those in a loveless marriage; for those who aren’t fortunate enough to get butterflies at the thought of their significant other; for those who feel trapped in abusive or stifling relationships… but I have not an ounce of sympathy for these idiots who willingly submitted their personal details to an online account dealing in dishonesty. But is my intolerance misplaced?
As an aside; here’s a thought – the budding cheat is putting his or her details into the website; and a pop-up window tells them ‘sorry, there’s already an account set up under that address’! The mind boggles. But back to the point…
Who in their right mind sits down to Google ‘affair website’? Actually, I just did. You won’t believe my eyes, dear reader – over 72 million returns in 0.28 seconds (don’t worry – I told my wife I was checking for professional reasons)!
Is my lack of sympathy misplaced and unfair? Does this incredible number of adultery websites say more about our seemingly manifest desire to fornicate extra-maritally, or is it an indication of how many unscrupulous operators are out there who can elicit valuable information from us? I’m going to reaffirm my belief in human nature and attest that it is the latter; the purpose behind this article.
So what is it that normalises such crass risk-taking in society? Judging by the search engine results, this is not an isolated website; and it certainly won’t be the only example of a platform that people are seemingly willing to share their details with. But the number of such platforms is not the issue, nor is the motive behind such a website as www.adulteryforyou.com (I have no idea if that exists by the way); for I am not attesting that such a website is set up to defraud.
What I am positing however is that we should not be surprised how simple it is for us to be hoodwinked in a manner that we just wouldn’t believe credible.
With the benefit of hindsight, I have no doubt that many of the hacked horde would never contemplate divulging personal details with a site that is predicated on dishonesty; but what triggers a seemingly rational mind to trade secrets without a care?
The ability of hackers, tricksters, scammers and other ne’er-do-wells to infiltrate organisations and indeed bypass the most sophisticated of security systems is mainly down to their knack for exploiting the weakest link – the soft, fleshy interface. I’m an Aeronautical Engineer by birth not a Social Engineer – but they do exist, and perhaps it’s good that they do.
An expert in this field is the author Paul Wilson (the man behind the hit TV show The Real Hustle) – and having read his book ‘Social Engineering: The Art of Human Hacking’ (from the perspective of not wishing to become another statistic) I commend it to you as a useful defence against discovering that you’ve ‘been so stupid’.
What hacks are you aware of that you can share with others? Have human hackers come close to getting your secrets? Why not share your experiences to prevent future ‘silly mistakes’ in the comments section below.
Matt is a columnist and author on all things freelance, engineering and consultancy – with rants and thought-provoking observations thrown in for good measure. He also runs a freelance consultancy in Lincoln; fulfilling his lifelong ambition to be his own boss after 16 years serving in both the Royal Navy and Royal Air Force. His consultancy attracts and employs high quality engineers alongside the finest defence and business professionals. Matt is a Chartered Engineer, and avid reader and huge football fan.