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As a child, I adored the USA rock band the Eagles, especially the musical talents of Joe Walsh. This explains the inspiration behind the title of this piece.

So, what’s going down at Ashley Madison?

Never heard of them? Off your radar? Surely not?

That stretches the bounds of incredulity. As even the people in Singapore’s Media Development Authority have heard of them. They even described their business site this way “it promotes adultery and disregards family values”, and subsequently will not allow them to operate in Singapore. Well, what a turn-up for the books.

On a more serious note, and as you might know, (from Wikipedia or some other ‘sites’,) Ashley Madison is a Canadian-based online dating service and social networking service marketed to people who are married or in a committed relationship. Its slogan is “Life is short. Have an affair.” It seems, if we are to believe various reports doing the rounds, that their Big Data has been compromised, big time.

Yes, I know, how could that possibly have happened, right?

According to some reports, Adison Mashley have around 37 million clients in the Big Data pool, and large caches of it have allegedly been stolen after an apparently successful hacking attempt was carried out. According to Krebs On Security, data stolen from the web site in question “have been posted online by an individual or group that claims to have completely compromised the company’s user databases, financial records and other proprietary information.”

But, again I ask, how can this happen?

I am not an avid fan of Big Data technology for core business use, and given the level of Big Data technology maturity, it sounds like a dopey idea. But each to their own.

What I will state is that my database management experience has tended to be associated with database technologies that can only be hacked as part of an inside job i.e. where people either know user IDs, passwords, IP addresses and layers of protection etc. or know of someone who does. Either someone who is a friend, part of the family (no, not that type of ‘family’) or someone who can be blackmailed into divulging the required access paths and security check workarounds.

However, taking a broader and more permissive view of this alleged hackerisation of Big Data, do we write it up as a Big Data success, i.e. The Amazing Big Data Affair? Put it down to a technical glitch and community faux pas? Or do we take a jaundiced view of the whole thing and keep it real? I await with baited breath for the enlightened opinions of the Big Data gurus.

Mitch ‘n’ Andy are not unfamiliar with ‘issues’ related to the use of people’s data. The Daily Dot carried a piece from contributing writer S. E. Smith with the headline ‘Why Ashley Madison is cheating on its users with Big Data’ in that piece, Smith states that “Like pretty much every other website on Earth, Ashley Madison spies on its users and crunches the data in a variety of ways to increase the bottom line.”

Belinda Luscombe writing in Time confirmed these suspicions with a piece titled ‘Cheaters’ Dating Site Ashley Madison Spied on Its Users’. She wrote:

In a study to be presented at the 109th Annual Meeting of the American Sociological Association in San Francisco on Saturday Aug. 16, Eric Anderson, a professor at the University of Winchester in England claims that women who seek extra-marital affairs usually still love their husbands and are cheating instead of divorcing, because they need more passion. “It is very clear that our model of having sex and love with just one other person for life has failed— and it has failed massively,” says Anderson.

“How does he know this? Because he spied on the conversations women were having on Ashley Madison, a website created for the purpose of having an affair. Professor Anderson, who as it turns out is a the “chief science officer” at Ashley Madison, looked at more than 4,000 conversations that 100 women were having with potential paramours. “I monitored their conversation with men on the website, without their knowing that I was monitoring and analyzing their conversations,” he says. “The men did not know either.”

Elsewhere, and as reported on Wikipedia, “Trish McDermott, a consultant who helped found Match.com, accused Ashley Madison of being a “business built on the back of broken hearts, ruined marriages, and damaged families.”

Wow, wow, and triple wow! What a way to run a dance hall!

Maybe they should reconsider their slogan, making it more snappy and apposite. How about “Life is short, we pimp your Big Data” as a starter? So go ahead, make your own and post it below. Have fun.

Many thanks for reading.

Oh, and one last thing before I go… GOOD-AD: Join The Big Data Contrarianshttps://www.linkedin.com/grp/home?gid=8338976

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