Ashley Madison Leak: A Survival Guide for the Exposed

By Scott Signore

Did you see Hugh Grant on Jay Leno years ago when he was asked about picking-up a prostitute? (The classic TV moment of Leno asking Grant “what the hell were you thinking?”)

The same could be asked of the customers of the Ashley Madison website (solely designed to help married people cheat on their spouses) when news broke in June that the website was hacked and customer names, credit card numbers and the amount of money they spent on the website was now in the hands of someone other than the site’s owner, Avid Life Media. The fact that the website was hacked is old news. But what’s news today is that the inevitable has occurred and the stolen data has been posted on the “dark web,” a part of the internet that can be viewed with a special browser. In brief, it’s now available and only a matter of time before the impact will be felt by those who subscribed to this website.

Our day job typically consists of providing public relations counsel to businesses who need to deliver their key messages to key audiences, but today I’m taking a slightly different approach and providing some suggestions to those who may find themselves in a bind while trying to explain why they (and their credit card, payment history, etc.) are posted online as part of the data breach. So, here are few thoughts related to dealing with such turmoil:

First, you will need a solid explanation, and a logical one is that you were connecting electronically with others for the purpose of confirming your belief that your spouse is, in fact, perfect. While a reminder isn’t necessary, you thought it would brighten your day to learn that the pool of available individuals accessible through this channel are far from the standard established by your significant other. Or, and one explanation that I’m certain is rather common, is that you were searching for someone compatible “for your friend.” That particular person doesn’t have the self-confidence to find a suitable mate on his or her own, so you are sacrificing time, energy and effort to do so on his/her behalf. (Blogger note: I would strongly suggest you have the name and corresponding life details prepared before taking this path.)

Second, you should pay attention to the very physical aspect of such an ordeal. That is, in advance of discussing anything with your spouse, clear the environment of any items that can be thrown, swung, or managed in a potentially damaging manner. (There’s a rather well-known golfer who solidified that the understanding that golf clubs are capable of causing damage and inflicting pain.) And, think of your own physical condition. You may want to increase the gym routine for the purpose of being in better condition in the event that you are required to run away, and at the very least you will likely be single and on the market again and being in better shape will give you a jump-start on the process of finding a new spouse. Hey, it’s not cheating if you’re no longer married, right?

Finally, if you hope to restore your relationship despite your behavior, I’d encourage you to engage an attorney for the purpose of having him prepare a document that legally prevents you from being on or around the internet. That is, ever again. I suspect that your spouse will have no interest in allowing you to use a keyboard or mobile device, ever, so you might as well buy into a disconnected life and get your affairs in order (pun intended).

[Blogger note: for those of you who don’t pick up the nuance of sarcasm within the preceding paragraphs, this is in fact a joke and not intended as actual counsel. But I hope you already knew that!]