States, Federal Government Reach Settlement with Ashley Madison Owner Over Data Breach
JACKSON— Attorney General Jim Hood announced today that the owners of a website catering primarily to married men have agreed to strengthen data security and cease deceptive practices following a July 2015 data breach in which sensitive user information was hacked and posted online.
Ruby Corp., the entity that owns AshleyMadison.com, will also make a payment of $1.657 million to the federal government and 13 states involved in an investigation of the company’s practices. Mississippi will receive $52,489.05.
The company demonstrated through financial documentation that they were unable to pay a larger amount, although if information changes, they will pay an additional $17 million.
“This breach should remind everyone to be careful about his or her online activity, because there’s always a chance that hackers will obtain their personal information,” Attorney General Hood said. “I will not condone the actions of those who used this site nor the owners who provided a means for the destruction of marriages and the break-up of families. However, like every business, the owners of the site had an obligation to ensure that user information was secure, so they failed in their legal responsibility as well.”
The data breach exposed information from millions of individuals, including photos, usernames, email addresses, and communications with other users. Much of this information was posted publicly online. In this instance, the exposed information was not only harmful to the subscribers, but especially harmful to their families.
In the wake of the security breach it was discovered that the website had created thousands of fake user profiles, misrepresented the strength of its security, and sold a “Full Delete” option which it did not carry out in all instances.
In the settlement, the company agreed to end certain deceptive practices, to not create fake profiles, and to implement a stronger data security program.
Attorney General Hood said his office’s Cybersecurity Guide could be helpful to small businesses, corporations and government agencies. The guide includes an overview of potential cybersecurity threats to businesses, suggestions for response to those threats and for actions following a data breach or hacking incident. Download a copy of the guide here: http://www.ago.state.ms.us/wp-
For additional information about this or other consumer issues, visit the Attorney General’s website, www.AGJimHood.com, or call the Consumer Hotline at (800) 281-4418.