Porn, Politics & Cybersecurity: Are We Seeing Shame Hacking with Texas Elector?

Is the Texas elector who refuses to vote for Trump the first example of shame hacking in politics?

In previous posts, I have written about shame hacking which is the use of hacked data for embarrassing or extorting people by threatening to expose such compromising data if they do not comply with whatever demands were made of them. I explained this on the CW 33 Eye Opener Morning Show while discussing the recent Adult Friend Finder data breach.

One of the ways I envisioned shame hacking taking place in an earlier post was for someone to use membership information revealed from the Ashley Madison hack in the context of politics:

The hack of Brazzers porn site is similar to the Ashley Madison hack in that the real opportunity for monetization lies not in the intrinsic value of the data itself, but in the opportunity to use the data to embarrass and extort others into paying money to keep it secret.

The data dump from the hackers includes email addresses, user names and passwords spelled out in plain text, which can certainly lead to embarrassment for those who would not want their spouses, significant others, co-workers, employers, employees, parents, children, pastors, congregation, or constituents to know they are members of such a site. (Brazzers Porn Hack: More than Just Account Holders Exposed)

With the public announcement by the Texas elector that he will not vote for Donald Trump, quite a kerfuffle has ensued. In the wake of this, one website is accusing the elector of having been a member of the Ashley Madison dating website and looks to information purportedly obtained through the Ashley Madison data breach to support its allegations.

Regardless of whether the allegations are true or false or the information purportedly obtained from the Ashley Madison data breach is real or not (and, I do not know either), this illustrates the point that information obtained from data breaches such as Ashley Madison, Brazzers, or Adult Friend Finder — or allegations of the existence of such information even if false — can and will be used for many ways, including in politics.

This is just the beginning folks, hang on for the ride!

Here are the prior posts that I mentioned earlier:

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Shawn Tuma (@shawnetuma) is a business lawyer with an internationally recognized reputation in cybersecurity, computer fraud, and data privacy law. He is a Cybersecurity & Data Privacy Partner at Scheef & Stone, LLP, a full-service commercial law firm in Texas that represents businesses of all sizes throughout the United States and, through its Mackrell International network, around the world.

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