Adultery Website AshleyMadison Said to Be Insured by Axis, AIG

By  and Tracy Alloway | Bloomberg

American International Group Inc. and Axis Capital Holdings Ltd. are among insurers for the company that owns, the adultery website hacked in a breach that exposed more than 37 million users, people familiar with the policies said.

AIG provided directors-and-officers coverage, while Axis insured the firm against cyber attacks, said the people, who asked not to be identified discussing private contracts.

Lawsuits against the website’s parent, Toronto-based Avid Life Media Inc., includeallegations that the company failed to notify users promptly about the threat and release of personal information. Law firms seeking to represent victims claim more than $500 million in damages. Avid Chief Executive Officer Noel Biderman stepped down a week after hackers released the personal information.

“Numerous class-action litigation cases that have been filed in the AshleyMadison and similar situations demonstrate the need for an analysis of existing insurance coverage,” Kevin Kalinich, leader of the cyber-risk team at insurance broker Aon Plc, said in an e-mail. He said some companies have been seeking to introduce policy exclusions to limit risks.

Matt Gallagher, a spokesman for New York-based AIG, declined to comment. Axis doesn’t disclose clients as a matter of policy, said Michael Herley, a spokesman with Kekst & Co. for the insurer. Messages left with AshleyMadison’s media operation weren’t immediately returned.

AIG is the largest commercial insurer in the U.S. and Canada. Its directors-and-officers coverage protects corporate officials against lawsuits. Bermuda-based Axis is the firm that lost to Italian investment firm Exor SpA this year in a bidding war for reinsurer PartnerRe Ltd.

In wake of Ashley Madison data release, experts warn of risks related to online personal data

By Bree Fowler


NEW YORK _ The Ashley Madison hack is a big reminder to all Web users: If you submit private data online, chances are it will never fully be deleted.

The hackers, who stole the data about a month ago and then posted it online this week, claimed in a statement that part of the reason for the theft was Ashley Madison’s fraudulent promise to fully delete users’ information if they paid the company a $19 fee.

The website whose slogan is “Life is short. Have an affair” is marketed to people looking for extramarital relationships. It purports to have about 39 million members.

The hackers said the company failed to delete the information, even though it collected the fees. Toronto-based Avid Life Media Inc., Ashley Madison’s parent company, hasn’t commented on the hackers’ accusation. A company spokesman didn’t respond to multiple emails seeking comment.

It’s virtually impossible to exist in modern society without putting at least some personal information online. Many people can’t get through a day without using the Internet to shop, pay a bill, or check their credit card balance.

People have become accustomed to trusting their most precious personal information to companies. But they also need to know that all of that information is being shared more than they would expect, privacy experts say.

Before you hit “submit,” stop and think before giving up your personal information to any kind of website, said Michael Kaiser, executive director of the National Cyber Security Alliance, an industry-funded group that educates consumers about cybersecurity.

“Personal information is like money, and you don’t just give away your money,” Kaiser says. “In the environment we’re in right now, you have to value it and think about protecting it everywhere you go on the Internet.”

That means taking a look at a website’s business to get an idea of how much they value information security and even asking them about their data retention practices. Banks, which deal in financial information, and large retailers, who have a vested interest in getting people to shop online, are probably safer bets than a dating site.

“Ashley Madison actually charges you to remove your information when you remove your account,” he says. “That’s a big clue about how they feel about your personal information.”

People also need to sometimes take a pass on convenience in the name of online security.

Many consumers like it when e-commerce sites have their credit card and other information on file, or when Web browsers automatically fill in forms with their name, address and other details, says Peter Tyrrell, chief operating officer of the data security firm Digital Guardian. Meanwhile, worries about data theft and loss have prompted companies to back up important information in multiple places.

But both practices increase the likelihood that information could be leaked or shared. And it means that even when a person thinks that their information has been permanently deleted, chances are there are still copies floating around somewhere.

“Ashley Madison is a company with a service that’s completely predicated on privacy,” Tyrrell says, adding that that characteristic sets it apart from many traditional e-commerce sites such as retailers.

“Here the capital, so to speak, isn’t a credit card or consumer goods. The capital is personal information that if released could be ruinous personally, and financially too.”

Breaches, whether they be at a major retailer such as Target Corp., a health insurance company such as Anthem Inc., or Ashley Madison, have become so common that people should give some serious thought before putting personal information online, says Caleb Barlow, a vice-president at IBM’s security division.

And while Social Security numbers weren’t involved Ashley Madison hack, people should be especially wary of using them as a backup password to access online information, given the potentially disastrous consequences that could result if they’re intercepted, he says.

“Why are we using Social Security Numbers for both identification and access?” he questions. “Any data that can never be changed can be used for identity, but should never be used for access.”

And no matter how legitimate a company or website may be, people need to be aware that they’re rolling the dice every time they hand over personal information.

Scott Vernick, partner and head of the data security and privacy practice at the law firm Fox Rothschild LLP, says consumers have the right to expect a certain level of online security, depending on the industry standards of the company they’re dealing with.

“But those expectations have to be muted by the knowledge that they’re always taking a risk, whether they’re ordering from Amazon Prime or from Ashley Madison,” Vernick says.




A look at widespread hacking impact and a rundown on recent major data breaches

By Brandon Bailey


SAN FRANCISCO _ The data breach affecting customers of the Ashley Madison website may be salacious, embarrassing or even ruinous for those involved. But it’s only the latest, and not the biggest, high-profile breach of customer or employee data reported in recent years.

Hackers say they’ve posted account information for some 35 million customers of the Ashley Madison service, which promises opportunities for extramarital affairs. That includes names, email addresses, phone numbers and birth dates, and at least partial credit card information, such as the last four digits of account numbers.



All told, more than 780 data breaches were reported last year by U.S. businesses, government agencies and other organizations that had customer or employee data exposed through hacking or inadvertent leaks, according to the Identity Theft Resource Center.



An estimated 110 million Americans, or nearly half the U.S. adult population, had some information exposed by data breaches during a 12-month period ending in May 2014, according to a Ponemon Institute study.



About one in three people who are affected by data breaches will suffer some type of identity theft or fraud, according to one study by Javelin Strategy & Research. Separately, Javelin estimates U.S. consumers lost more than $16 billion to identity fraud last year.

Here are some of the biggest breaches in recent years:

_ Software-maker Adobe Systems suffered a breach in 2013 that reportedly involved 150 million customer email addresses and encrypted passwords.

_ Online retailer eBay had a 2014 breach involving an estimated 145 million customer names, addresses and encrypted passwords.

_ Home Depot, the home improvement chain, suffered a 2014 breach that reportedly exposed about 56 million customer payment card accounts, plus email addresses for 53 million more customers.

_ Retail chain Target had a breach in 2013 that reportedly affected 40 million payment cards and phone numbers or addresses for another 70 million customers.

_ Insurance giant Anthem reported a breach last year that included social security numbers, employment and income information for up to 80 million people.

_ Sony Pictures Entertainment suffered a hack last year in which personal information for nearly 50,000 current and former employees, including salaries and social security numbers, was posted online.

_ Earlier this year, the U.S. Office of Personnel Management suffered a hack involving sensitive information including social security numbers and even fingerprint records for up to 25 million current and former federal workers.


Nasdaq’s Directors Desk Expands Presence in Canadian Market


Nasdaq NDAQ, +0.22% announced the expansion of their Directors Desk corporate governance offering, one of the world leaders in electronic board portal workflow and content delivery, into Canada via the establishment of two new data centers in Ontario. This will enable Nasdaq to more effectively service clients, and similar to the existing data centers in the U.S. and Sweden, the Canadian servers will be audited against SSAE 16 level II standards.

“We are proud to expand our presence in Canada to provide corporate secretaries in the region a collaborative solution to improve efficiencies around the governance process,” said Adam Ross, Vice President and Head of Governance Solutions, Nasdaq. “With stepped-up pressure on Canadian Companies and far greater visibility, boards are actively seeking ways to improve their performance and effectiveness.”

In addition, Directors Desk has signed on as a sponsor of the Canadian Society of Corporate Secretaries and will be present at a number of events throughout the year. Nasdaq and Directors Desk representatives will present at these events on various topics such as cyber security and the role of the corporate secretary.

A digital productivity suite, Directors Desk streamlines board workflow and communications, allowing corporate secretaries, executives and board members to redirect their energy to developing strategies to take their organization to the next level. More than just a board portal, Directors Desk’s document repository is a fully hosted platform that can be used as a document and file management system, with advanced digital rights management for varying levels of access.

Directors Desk simplifies the sharing of mission-critical information via the web or tablet apps, making meetings anywhere more productive with instant collaboration capabilities. The solution provides board communications, collaboration, governance and risk management services to over 40,000 users in 40 countries worldwide.


Nasdaq NDAQ, +0.22% is a leading provider of trading, clearing, exchange technology, listing, information and public company services across six continents. Through its diverse portfolio of solutions, Nasdaq enables customers to plan, optimize and execute their business vision with confidence, using proven technologies that provide transparency and insight for navigating today’s global capital markets. As the creator of the world’s first electronic stock market, its technology powers more than 70 marketplaces in 50 countries, and 1 in 10 of the world’s securities transactions. Nasdaq is home to more than 3,500 listed companies with a market value of over $9.5 trillion and more than 10,000 corporate clients.

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