FriendFinder Networks, an organization of multiple websites that are mostly tailored to swingers and other sexually-driven services and content, is dealing with societal backlash following a cyber-attack that leaked more than 412 million user accounts to the public. The hackers reportedly struck in late October, exhuming private identifying information from six of FriendFinder Networks websites, dating back as far as 1996 and accessing information that users thought they had deleted and buried. The vast majority of the exposed accounts – roughly 340 million – originated from AdultFriendFiender.com, a website advertised by the company itself to be “the world’s largest sex and swinger community.”
This is not the first time AdultFriendFinder was hacked. In May 2015, another cyber-attack targeted the adult-friendly website, leading to 3.5 million accounts being shown to everyone who wanted to see them. FriendFinder has recently stated that they have fixed the vulnerability within their websites’ securities, but the argument could be made that the damage has already been done.
Reminiscent of Ashley Madison
Tech news headlines lit up last year after Ashley Madison was breached by hackers, shining light on about 37 million user accounts. The website is directly advertised as an online source for married people to find other married people who want to have an affair in secret. Following the account exposure, divorce rates jumped here and there.
Will the FriendFinder Network hack have the same effects on the married population? The number of accounts dug up by the hackers is tenfold but the implications might not be ascondemning. Ashley Madison encouraged and enabled infidelity but FriendFinder Network only has adult-themed services and content that do not break a marriage’s bond by definition. At this time, it is perhaps too early to tell or speculate how divorce rates will be affected, but a person’s name on the hacked list will certainly hurt their chances to gain child custody and property rights during a divorce, now or later.
The hack also serves as a clear reminder that what happens online is not totally anonymous and is never completely secure. Electronic discovery methods in divorce can dredge up user account information, with or without a hack. The only sure way someone can avoid having their account exposed is to never have one in the first place.
For more information regarding divorce laws and discovery methods, you can contact TJC • ESQ. Our family law attorneys in Rhode Island have decades of combined legal experience and our lead by Attorney Timothy J. Conlon, an award-winning divorce lawyer headquartered in Providence. Call 401-400-4254 today to begin.