Ashley Madison hack; Private info of 37 Million users seeking extra marital relationship at risk
Hackers belonging to a group called The Impact Team hacked the online adultery website Ashley Madison with 37 million members yesterday.
For the uninitiated Ashley Madison is an online dating service and social networking service marketed to people who are already married or in a relationship. Ashley Madison was created by fusing two popular female names, Ashley and Madison and the sites motto is “Life is short. Have an affair.” It invites individuals looking to have affairs and fixes a match for them similar to Tinder.
The Impact Team who hacked the site, released a teaser of personal information they have stolen from the website have claimed that they have complete access to the Ashley Madison’s complete database of member.
It says it also has financial records and other personal information that it is threatening to publish online unless the site closes.
As of now they released 40MB of data, including some credit card details and several documents about its parent company Avid Life Media (ALM), But the group says it is prepared to release all customer records, including the “secret sexual fantasies” of members, unless the site is closed.
The group has also compromised two other dating sites; Cougar Life and Established Men. All the three sites are owned by Avid Life Media (ALM)
The hackers said in a statement: “Avid Life Media has been instructed to take Ashley Madison and Established Men offline permanently in all forms, or we will release all customer records, including profiles with all the customers’ secret sexual fantasies and matching credit card transactions, real names and addresses, and employee documents and emails. The other websites may stay online.”
The hackers’ main grouse with the adultery site seems to be a leavers’ fee that the company charges users. Ashley Madison offers a “full delete” of data for a fee should a user choose to leave the service permanently. It has often been praised for this feature in the past. In fact, in a 2012 study by online rights campaign group EFF, Ashley Madison was appreciated for the way it deleted data after a user closed their account.
However the The Impact Team said that despite charging the leavers’ fees, Ashley Madison continued to save the details such as real names and addresses of such users instead of deleting it as promised.
In their own statement, ALM said: “We apologise for this unprovoked and criminal intrusion into our customers’ information.
“The current business world has proven to be one in which no company’s online assets are safe from cyber-vandalism, with Avid Life Media being only the latest among many companies to have been attacked, despite investing in the latest privacy and security technologies.”
“At this time, we have been able to secure our sites, and close the unauthorised access points. We are working with law enforcement agencies, which are investigating this criminal act.”
“Any and all parties responsible for this act of cyber-terrorism will be held responsible.”