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Attacks/Breaches

8/28/2015
02:45 PM
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Ashley Madison CEO Resigns

Once again, a security breach claims an executive's job, but the business plans to continue operating.

After leaked emails revealed that he too had engaged in extra-marital affairs -- despite claiming he had not -- the founder and CEO of Avid Life Media (ALM), parent company of AshleyMadison.com, resigned today. Records from Ashley Madison, a dating site that specializes in arranging extra-marital affairs, and its sister sites Cougar Life and Established Men were hit with a doxing attack that also exposed customer profiles and credit card data.

Attackers announced they'd breached the company and stolen its data last month, threatening to release it if Ashley Madison were not shut down. After the company continued to conduct business, attackers followed through with threats and posted the data to the dark web last week.

According to a statement released by the company: “Effective today, Noel Biderman, in mutual agreement with the company, is stepping down as Chief Executive Officer of Avid Life Media Inc, (ALM) and is no longer with the company. This change is in the best interest of the company and allows us to continue to provide support to our members and dedicated employees. We are steadfast in our commitment to our customer base.” 

"High profile breaches not only cost consumers their privacy but are more often also costing executives their jobs," said Eric Chiu, president & co-founder of HyTrust. "We have now seen the CEO and CIO of Target, director of the Office of Personnel Management, and now the CEO of Avid Life Media, parent company of Ashley Madison, lose their jobs after high profile attacks. Data breaches are a huge cost to organizations, including loss of trust, brand damage, lawsuits and business impact. Understanding and placing a high importance on security will be a key requirement moving forward for any executive in the connected world that we live in."

 

Dark Reading's Quick Hits delivers a brief synopsis and summary of the significance of breaking news events. For more information from the original source of the news item, please follow the link provided in this article. View Full Bio
 

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Joe Stanganelli
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Joe Stanganelli,
User Rank: Ninja
8/28/2015 | 11:12:30 PM
C-suiters resigning
One of the main reasons we see C-suiters resigning in the wake of data breaches is because of pressure from politicians and regulatory authorities, who want to see that the company is doing *something*.  Firing/asking the C(x)O to resign is a good step in that direction because it's usually a far preferable action than being subject to heightened regulatory scrutiny and sanctions.
rlynxwiler617
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rlynxwiler617,
User Rank: Apprentice
8/29/2015 | 12:34:57 PM
Re: C-suiters resigning
I wonder if it's not so much the gov't regulators as much as saving face with the public.  Maybe the perception is that if I lose the trust of the public because of a breach, I can regain some of that by punishing someone at the highest levels, someone who is more visible than a first line manager.  My experience is that regulators are more concerned with the nuts and bolts of control changes rather than some figure head getting fired.  Who knows.
jamieinmontreal
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jamieinmontreal,
User Rank: Strategist
8/31/2015 | 9:51:44 AM
Re: C-suiters resigning
This is true, but the effect is then to force other CxOs to look at their organization's security posture and liability differently.   If the buck stops at the CEO's door for a data breach the trickle down effect should be to force tighter security across the organisation.

The Board, in deciding that releasing the CEO port-breach is tacitly agreeing that breach prevention is a strategic, executive level responsibility.   This is no bad thing.
SgS125
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SgS125,
User Rank: Ninja
8/31/2015 | 11:42:18 AM
Re: C-suiters resigning
Or in some cases it's just a valid result of poor performance just like any other job.  There are consequesnces for not doing a good job at most employers, why should we treat the c level suite any different?
Joe Stanganelli
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Joe Stanganelli,
User Rank: Ninja
8/31/2015 | 11:25:45 PM
Re: C-suiters resigning
On the one hand, I think your cause-and-effect analysis here is spot on.

On the other hand, there is a popular saying in the security community that I think holds true: "There are two types of organizations -- those that know they have been breached, and those that don't yet know they have been breached."

Which is to say that to a certain degree, hacks -- while mitigatable -- are not wholesale preventable.
rlynxwiler617
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rlynxwiler617,
User Rank: Apprentice
9/1/2015 | 9:45:01 AM
Re: C-suiters resigning
Your two types of companies was exactly what i was thinking when i wrote my response.  If every company has been breached to some degree (and I believe most if not all have already been) then every CxO in the nation should be stepping down at some point in the next few months.  I don't think this individual would have stepped down except for the high media visibility (and, of course, their business purpose), which is why I'm proposing that public perception/press are undeniable factors in who steps down and who doesn't.
Joe Stanganelli
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Joe Stanganelli,
User Rank: Ninja
9/4/2015 | 5:39:26 AM
Re: C-suiters resigning
Other pertinent factors, I think, include the breadth/depth of the breach, and the vulnerabilities (both technical and cultural) that contributed to the breach.

Another important factor: crisis response.  Adobe presents a great example of what not to do.  With their major breach a while back, the company first estimated that just under 3 million customers had been impacted.  They later amended that number to at least 38 million.  Eventually, it was revealed that more than 150 million customers' information was compromised.

Not good for business.
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