The latest cyber breach grabbing headlines is sending chills down millions of spines. The victims aren’t afraid of anything as mundane as having their credit card data made public. They’re terrified that their spouses will find out that they’ve been cheating on them. The site breached, ashleymadison.com, is in the business of facilitating infidelity. Reports are that nearly 40 million of their member records are now available.
According to Statista there are (or were before this happened) about 60 million married couples in the US. You don’t have to do too much math to see that a very significant percentage of people are willing to cheat, or are willing to have sex with others who are cheating.
The repercussions are already significant, with divorce lawyers expecting a mini boom in the market. And there will likely be career implications as well. According to an AP report, many government employees seem to have been using the site, including a division chief at the Department of Justice. In addition adultery is a crime under the Uniform Code of Military Justice, meaning some people may face more than embarrassment and the loss of a job.
So what does it mean for the compliance and ethics community? For one, it’s a good reminder that your organization’s data is a prime target.
Second, given the sheer number of users of the site, it’s safe to say that the vast majority of companies in this country have users of the site working for them.
That should be a wake up call for everyone who ever resisted a compliance program on the premise that “we have good people” or that “our people know the difference between right and wrong.”
Clearly a lot of people don’t know the difference, or don’t care, at least when it comes to adultery.
Many will likely say, “Well, that’s more of a personal matter, not a business one.” And while it’s strictly true, I don’t think there is a switch in our brains that changes our ethics the moment we walk into the office. Further, the number of users of Ashley Madison who accessed the site from work shows that there is less of a difference between personal and business than many would think.
This whole, sordid incident is a reminder that no matter how good an ethics and compliance program is, there will always be people willing to cheat, whether in their marriage or elsewhere.
[bctt tweet=”Simply teaching people right and wrong is no guarantee that they will do what is right @AdamTurteltaub” via=”no”]
Simply teaching people right and wrong is no guarantee that they will do what is right. And, no matter how good we may think our people are, at least some of them are far from being as good as we think.
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