Tuesday, August 25, 2015

The Ashley Madison Hack: Please Tell Me Gov't Workers Can't Be THIS Dumb!

The news of the hack at Ashley Madison, an internet cheat site, must have 37 million prospective marital cheats biting their nails - given the self-righteous hackers (only out to expose moral perfidy) have all their email addresses.  But the people who must really be shaking in their boots are all the federal workers who actually delivered their real email accounts to the site.

An investigation by the AP discovered many with sensitive jobs in the White House as well as law enforcement agencies according to a report in the Denver Post ('Government Employees Used Work Internet to Access Cheating Website', Aug. 21, p. 9 A) "used Internet connections in their federal offices to access and pay membership fees to the cheating website Ashley Madison"

The results included (ibid.) "at least two U.S. assistant district attorneys, an information technology administrator in the Executive Office, a division chief, an investigator and a trial attorney in the Justice Department and a government hacker at the Homeland Security Department"

While few actually used their government email accounts to pay for services, "the AP traced their government connections - logged by the website over 5 years - and reviewed their credit card transactions to identify them. They included workers at more than two dozen Obama administration  agencies, including the departments of State, Defense, Justice, Energy, Treasury, Transportation and Homeland Security. Others came from House or Senate computer networks".

Fortunately, the Associated Press has had the good sense not to identify any of the government workers because none are elected officials or have been accused of a crime.

At first I couldn't believe what I was reading. Did gov't workers really have that much time on their hands, to fool around? Did they not know or understand how the Repukes have been on the warpath for donkey's years to cut Government down to the size of "being able to drown it in a bathtub" (words of Grover Norquist)

Didn't they know that the 'pukes and their collaborators - mainly in the conservative extremist media - would now be going hammer and tongue to justify reducing government even further, given the AP's exposure of such frivolous nonsense?

Those of us who've vigorously defended government as a counterforce to the expansion of wealth and corporate power - to be in defense of citizens - now look like we have egg on our faces.  We look like we've defended slackers and n'er do wells.

And the fallout for the cheat site users isn't over. Defense Secretary Ash Carter noted (ibid.)  those who used military emails are in jeopardy given adultery can be a criminal offense according to the Uniform Code of Military Justice.

Meanwhile, one anonymous investigator quoted in the DPost piece, vowed he would not be a victim of blackmail so, if prompted, he'd reveal his actions to family and employer.

In his words (ibid.):

"I've worked too hard all my life to be a victim of blackmail. That wouldn't happen"

Fair enough, but why risk your lifetime of work achievements in the first place? And over a stupid cheaters' website.

Such questions will be asked a lot in the coming weeks, and hopefully these federal workers will have decent answers including why so many used actual email account addresses as opposed to dummy accounts.

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