Ashley Madison & the Security Clearance Backlash

The phone lines of marriage counselors and divorce attorneys are ringing off the hook since news of the Ashley Madison cyber attack broke in July. The phones of headhunters and temp agencies may soon experience the same influx.

Some Ashley Madison users who hold a government security clearance may face an uncertain job future if they lose their clearance as a result of their participation on the dating website geared toward those who wish to have an affair.

The cyber attack in which millions of Ashley Madison users’ personal information has been revealed exposes the threat of cyber extortion, according to a recent Business Insurance article.

“The fact that someone with a security clearance might expose classified information to protect their marriage is highly possible,” says security clearance lawyer Catie Young.

People are capable of drastic actions in the face of potential public humiliation, or out of fear of destroying their families. After all, we’ve already seen news reports of suicides attributed to the Ashley Madison information leak.

Some of the agencies revealed in the leak include the Transportation Security Administration, Naval Intelligence and the State Department.

“The fact that they’re both using a site designed for marital indiscretions and using their government-issued email addresses to do so is impropriety, stupidity and a security fiasco, all in one package,” wrote Lyndy Kyzer in a recent ClearanceJobs.com article.

Even though you might have used your work email address to join Ashley Madison so your spouse wouldn’t find out, your personal business is private, right? Not so fast.

Security clearance holders who joined Ashley Madison could find their emails related to the site “pulled and used as supporting evidence in a clearance denial based on Adjudicative Guideline D: Sexual Behavior,” the article states.

The concern outlined in Guideline D is that sexual behavior that reflects lack of judgment or discretion, or which may subject the individual to undue influence or coercion, exploitation, or duress can raise questions about an individual’s reliability, trustworthiness and ability to protect classified information, according to the U.S. Department of State. You can read the full guideline here.

If your information is among the data released as a result of this hack and you are concerned that your security clearance – and, therefore, your job – are in jeopardy, we recommend that you consult an attorney who specializes in this area of law. Getting ahead of the issue means you can be prepared if the government issues you a Statement of Reasons.

We invite you to call our office today for a free consultation.