It seems like cheaters almost always get caught eventually, and it looks like a recent hack of online cheating site Ashley Madison might be the mother lode of busted cheaters. Avid Life Media, the owner of Ashley Madison and other related websites, confirmed to the media Monday that they had suffered a major network breach. Moreover, it appears to be a “worst case scenario” as apparently it was an inside job and the attackers managed to steal virtually all the firm’s data, including the financial and personal information of 37 million cheaters.
A hacker group called The Impact Team claimed responsibility for the Ashley Madison attack, and have posted some of the stolen data online to show they are serious about their demand that ALM close down Ashley Madison and a smaller sister site.
The hackers published excerpts of account data apparently taken random from user data in ALM’s properties. The attackers also made maps of internal company servers, employee network account information, and company bank account data and salary information public with their online postings.
Of interest, the online firm had recently floated plans regarding an initial public offering in London in late 2015, hoping to raise as much as much as $200 million. One can only wonder what the value of shares trading in private markets are now worth after this hack, which could be a catastrophic for the company’s finances and reputation.
ALM released a statement on Monday admitting that it had been compromised and stating it was working with law enforcement to apprehend the responsible parties.
“We were recently made aware of an attempt by an unauthorized party to gain access to our systems. We immediately launched a thorough investigation utilizing leading forensics experts and other security professionals to determine the origin, nature, and scope of this incident.
“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.”
More on the Ashley Madison hack
In a manifesto published with stolen ALM data, The Impact Team claims it is publishing this personal information because of “lies” ALM told its customers regarding a service that supposedly completely erases their profile information from a site for a fee of $19.
The hackers claim the “full delete” feature that Ashley Madison advertises and that promises “removal of site usage history and personally identifiable information from the site,” does not actually do so as credit card-related personal information is retained by the company.
“Full Delete netted ALM $1.7mm in revenue in 2014. It’s also a complete lie,” the hacking group wrote in its statement. “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 Impact Team goes on to demand that ALM close down Ashley Madison and another online cheating site:
“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.”