So you were among those who were hiding under an anonymous name and seeking an extramarital affair at Ashley Madison ? Well, you’ve got bad news ! Nope, your other half didn’t come to know about it, its a group of hackers actually, who might be holding on to your ‘secret’ and ‘anonymous’ information.
The hackers, going by the name ‘The Impact team’ have reportedly gained access to all the user data, financial information and proprietary information of Avid Life Media (ALM), the parent company of Ashley Madison and have also compromised the data of its other two websites, Established Men and Cougar. the hack, which is expected to affect as many as 32 Million accounts, was first uncovered by security expert Brian Krebs.
The hackers are demanding these websites to be taken down immediately as they encourage infidelity and immoral practices and have threatened to expose the sensitive data to the world.
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 hacker manifesto said.
As the news is being written, hackers have already made 40 mb data online including leaked maps of internal company servers, employee network account information, company bank account data and
CEO of ALM group, Noel Biderman confirmed the hack saying,
We’re not denying this happened. Like us or not, this is still a criminal act.
He further added that the company was “working diligently and feverishly” to take down ALM’s intellectual property.
At this time, we have been able to secure our sites, and close the unauthorized 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.
ALM said in a statement.
As per the manifesto released by the hackers, hackers seem to be more irked by the supposed lie told by Ashley Madison about their premium “full delete” feature worth $19 which claims to allow users to completely erase their data from their system but in reality, does not do that.
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.
ALM CEO though did not divulge any details about the ongoing investigation, but said that at least one of the persons behind the hack, at some point of time had legitimate inside access to their security servers perhaps a former employee or contractor.
This theory does seem to have some amount of truth in it as it was followed by the first leaks from the hacker group and a statement which said,
Our one apology is to Mark Steele (Director of Security),
the manifesto reads.
You did everything you could, but nothing you could have done could have stopped this.
Ashley Madison was launched in 2001 as the dating service for those already in relationship and goes by the tagline “Life is short. Have an affair”.
According various estimates, it has over 124 million visitors per month. It was planning to raise about $200 million through IPO in London Stock Exchange and was interestingly given a heads up for security by an article on Wall Street Journal earlier this year after the hacking of a similar website AdultFriend Finder.