#CyberFLASH: Ashley Madison could face class-action suit after massive data breach

slide_349495_3739937_freeSeveral high-profile hacks, including the recent attack against Ashley Madison, a website for people looking to have an affair, have raised questions about whether online activity is ever truly private.

Ashley Madison is built around the notion of safeguarding its users’ information — reflected in its signature image of a woman’s pursed lips making the ‘shh’ sign, seemingly meant to reassure would-be adulterers that their secrets are safe.

But now, hackers say 37 million accounts have been compromised.

The company’s owner, Toronto-based Avid Life Media, said Monday it has “always had the confidentiality of our customers’ information foremost in our minds” but was not able to assure its users that their information is safe.

A similar website, Adult FriendFinder, was also hacked in May.

‘Level of risk’

Is secret information online — from a sordid affair to an embarrassing Twilight fan-fiction blog — ever really secure?

Likely not, security and privacy experts say.

“What people should think about is just acceptable risk. Any time you’re using a computer or giving away information of any kind, there is the risk that can be misused,” says Andrew Hilts, executive director at Open Effect, a Canadian non-profit that does research on privacy and security.

“It comes down to what level of risk you’re comfortable with,” says Hilts.

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