Upward of 37m users of adulterous dating site Ashley Madison have had their details stolen in a data breach that could prove to be more damaging than the one dealt to Adult Friend Finder earlier this year.
And now users of the site – slogan: ‘Life Is Short. Have An Affair.” – appear to be the pawns in a game between the site’s holding company Avid Life Media and the hackers, collectively known as The Impact Team.
The catalyst for the Impact Team’s attack lies in the fact that Ashley Madison’s full profile deletion service – performed at an extra charge of $19 – does not fulfil its promises. This is a problem that has been documented across the tech sector in the past.
“Full Delete netted ALM $1.7mm in revenue in 2014. It’s also a complete lie,” the hacking group wrote. “Users almost always pay with credit card; their purchase details are not removed as promised, and include real name and address, which is of course the most important information the users want removed.
“Avid Life Media has been instructed to take Ashley Madison and Established Men [Another of Avid Life Media’s dating sites] 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 Impact Team go on to say that the site’s userbase – including “many rich and powerful” – are about to have very bad days indeed.
“We apologize 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.
“We have always had the confidentiality of our customers’ information foremost in our minds, and have had stringent security measures in place, including working with leading IT vendors from around the world. As other companies have experienced, these security measures have unfortunately not prevented this attack to our system.”
With details being leaked in a steady stream, it remains to be seen how Avid Life Media deal with the demands of The Impact Team.