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Looking back at the hack

It was like a big practical joke played on millions of married men (and a few married women) who were exposed as cheaters — or at least cheater wannabes — by hackers who had broken into Ashley Madison’s database.

But the humor dissipated for many within days of the release by hackers of the names of Ashley Madison account-holders. Several suicides were connected to the release of the estimated 30 million names, People magazine reported, including a police captain and a pastor. It was also inevitable that the revelation of the names would spark divorce proceedings from Las Vegas to Little Rock, and from Lafayette to Los Angeles and everywhere in between.

The scandal maintains a grip on the online world, where hacking constantly undermines the credibility and cybersafety of online merchants, banks, government agencies and everyday people. Tech Insider recently took another look at the Ashley Madison hack to see why so many men who signed up for the site were so unconcerned about the possibility of being caught.

The online publication sought out Marlene Wasserman, who spent three years on the Ashley Madison site (with the consent of its former CEO), posing as both a married man and a single woman. In the process, she questioned Ashley Madison customers about infidelity.

“They think it’s not infidelity,” Wasserman said of Ashley Madison users. “It’s only infidelity if they go offline.” Of course, it’s unlikely that spouses who found their partner’s name among those released by hackers had a similarly benign view.

In some cases, men just looked around, more curious than truly trying to start an affair. But others engaged in sexting that included photos and graphic flirtations. She said even then, Ashley Madison users felt that their acts weren’t betrayals that put their marriages in danger.

Wasserman said many users felt as if they were in a safe, loyal little world that included nothing but them and their phone or computer. “It feels completely comfortable and safe,” she said. “You lull yourself into safety.”

The false sense of security was shaken for many with the hack and then shattered for some with news of separations and legal steps taken. No matter what the circumstances resulting in divorce, the legal and emotional processes are difficult to navigate.

An experienced Clark County family law attorney represents you in negotiations over property division, child custody and other family law disputes.

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