AshleyMadison, an extramarital affairs website, is under the threat of a hacking group named “The Impact Team.” The hacking group is threatening to reveal private information of millions of the websites’ users unless their demand is fulfilled. The hacker group alleged that the database of the company that owns AshleyMadison, Avid Life Media (ALM), had been invaded and the group gained access to everything from user profiles and financial records to ALM salary information.
Some sort of data had already been leaked. The Impact Team also stated that Ashley Madison charged users a fee of $19 to carry out a “Full Delete” of personal data if users wanted to leave the site. But the hackers claimed that it was a “Complete Lie”. They also noted that the company’s claim that “Full Delete netted ALM $1.7mm in revenue in 2014” was also a lie. Users usually always pay with a credit card; their purchase details are not removed as promised. The Impact Team gave an ultimatum that the dating site AshleyMadison and Established Men, ALM’s other dating site, had to be permanently put offline. Otherwise, they would reveal customer records and profiles, including real names and their “secret sexual fantasies.” The hackers added that ALM promised secrecy but didn’t kept it. It would be an unpleasant day for over 37 million members, mostly from the US and Canada, including many dominant and wealthy people.
Avid Life Media apologized for the criminal invasion into their customers’ information and explained that they “had stringent security measures in place, including working with leading IT vendors from around the world.” But “as other companies have experienced, these security measures have unfortunately not prevented” a cyberattack. They included that they had now been able to secure their sites and closed the unauthorized access points. They were also working with law enforcement agencies, which were investigating this criminal act. ALM Chief Executive Noel Biderman claimed that the hack might have been facilitated by someone who once had legitimate access to ALM’s internal networks.
Established in 2001, the controversial website promotes itself as a “darker side of dating.” If the hackers are true to their word, AshleyMadison, which describes itself as a service for “discreet encounters,” may not be that discreet anymore.