Ashley Madison Breach Proves Hackers Can and Will Take Away Your CEO’s Job

A steadily growing list of senior executives have lost their jobs in the wake of high-profile hacking attacks. There will be more.

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If you were ever inclined to think that criminal computer hackers were more nuisance than mortal threat to companies and the careers of their senior executives, the events of the past week should quickly change your mind.  If there’s anything that C-level executives at companies of all kinds can learn from the devastating hacking attack against Ashley Madison, a site for arranging extramarital trysts, and its parent company, Avid Life Media, it is this: Hackers can cost you your job.   Avid Life CEO Noel Biderman is only the latest in a slowly accumulating collection of senior execs who have lost their jobs after high-profile hacking incidents on their companies or organizations. There will doubtless be many more.   In February, Amy Pascal, the longtime head of Sony Pictures Entertainment, lost her job as chairman of the movie studio, after a hacking attack late last year that the U.S. government blamed on North Korea led to the disclosure of a series of embarrassing emails. Pascal’s boss Michael Lynton, who was more circumspect in his online communications, kept his job.  But that did not matter after a breach of the payment systems of retail giant Target cost CEO Gregg Steinhafel his job. And then Katherine Archuleta, the director of the U.S. Office of Personnel Management was forced to resign last month after an attack by a group of hackers in China made off with a massive trove of personal information on federal employees, including many key intelligence operatives.

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