My Take

Forget Ashley Madison, the real hack is making us dependent and powerless

PUBLISHED : Friday, 21 August, 2015, 2:03am
UPDATED : Friday, 21 August, 2015, 8:33am

Computer hacking now happens everywhere. It's becoming like traffic jams and flight delays, nuisances of the modern world that are unavoidable and have to be put up with. Practically everyday, we hear about people, organisations and governments being hacked. Now and then, you yourself become a target; most likely it's your credit card or internet account for online transactions.

I hope you are not one of the thousands in Hong Kong or millions around the world whose personal data have been leaked from the infidelity promotion website Ashley Madison.

Right now the hacked data is raw, meaning they require a degree of technical knowledge to be able to access and read. But you can be sure technically savvy people are working around the clock to decode the data for the world to see. It's just a matter of time before your spouse or girlfriend finds out. Maybe it's time to come clean and make a full confession before it's too late.

READ MORE: Tread carefully when perusing leaked Ashley Madison data, Hong Kong privacy watchdog warns

The rest of us just shrug off the latest Ashley Madison hack and have a good laugh. To be sure, those philanderers have it coming. It's hard to feel sympathy for them or the company involved.

Yet, the incident should bring home a real threat to our privacy and property that we have all too easily come to accept. We love the convenience of e-commerce so much we don't seem to mind risking our credit cards and online accounts getting hacked.

Our attitude is like those who say we shouldn't worry too much about government surveillance of our online activities if we have nothing to hide. Criminals, companies and governments are all busy hacking away at our privacy and threatening our property. Maybe it's not just that we love the ease and convenience of getting services and doing business online. It is also that we have no other choices. So we put up with the invasion and keep lowering our standards of privacy to make it easier to accept our being constantly violated. We have a much higher tolerance of threats and dangers in cyberspace than we do in physical space.

The internet, when it first burst on to the scene, promised personal freedom and empowerment. I wonder if it actually makes most of us more helpless, dependent and powerless.