The Ashley Madison leak has certainly distressed countless millions of individuals who have made use of the online cheater site. The distress is a potential two-fold torment – not only are users concerned over the exploitation of misappropriated credit card information, they are undoubtedly fretful over the fact that their steamy, underbelly affairs will be leaked and openly exposed by the hacker group, which dubbed the site’s users “cheating dirtbags who deserve no discretion.”
Writes the CSMonitor: “If you believe the apparent attackers – the individual or group calling itself the Impact Team – Ashley Madison retained customers’ names and addresses even after they paid $19 for a ‘full delete’ of their details. After the Impact Team posted some Ashley Madison user info online earlier this week, the company defended its practices and said it ‘does in fact remove all information related to a member’s profile and communications activity.’”
The hook-up site, which has as its shameless motto, “Life is short, have an affair,” has tried very hard to placate its 37 million members with assurances that a stopgap solution for the mining data trove is in place and holding.
The hacker group – self-identified as The Impact Team – yanked an enormous amount of sensitive data from Avid Life Media, a Toronto-based firm that owns the Ashley Madison site as well as two related rendezvous sites: Cougar Life and Established Men.
In a statement, ALM said:
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.
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.
Still, that hasn’t spurred any confidence of spouses who find themselves in a panic. Especially when The Impact Team released a small sample to prove their point – dumping about 40 megabytes of their salacious info.
The hackers claim to possess “maps of internal company servers, employee network account information, company bank account data and salary information,” as well as personal information about each individual user, such as their identity information, their communications with other individuals – even their “secret sexual fantasies.”
At the heart of the hacker’s platform is a controversial “full delete” option advertised on AshleyMadison.com – a service that, for $20, supposedly allows a user to get out and scrub their account completely. Evidently for cheaters who have had enough of their illicit, sexual improprieties, or for those spouses who simply get cold feet over the idea of shagging a stranger.
In a long manifesto, The Impact Team essentially called the delete option a lie, and hacked the stored info to prove it.
“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.”
The group then posted their demands:
“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.”
Too bad for those men, they’re cheating dirtbags and deserve no such discretion. Too bad for ALM, you promised secrecy but didn’t deliver. We’ve got the complete set of profiles in our data breach dumps, and we’ll release them soon if Ashley Madison stays online. And with over 37 million members, mostly from the US and Canada, a significant percentage of the population is about to have a very bad day, including many rich and powerful people. ~Hacker group The Impact Team
ALM CEO Noel Biderman said, “We’re not denying this happened,” adding however that they have narrowed down the breach to a person or persons who at one time had insider access – perhaps a former employee or a contractor.
“We’re on the doorstep of [confirming] who we believe is the culprit, and unfortunately that may have triggered this mass publication,” Biderman said. “I’ve got their profile right in front of me, all their work credentials. It was definitely a person here that was not an employee but certainly had touched our technical services.”
What are your thoughts? Any sympathy for these cheaters and their stolen info? Should the Ashley Madison hackers leak it all?