Infidelity Site Ashley Madison Users Outed by Hackers


For those not in the know; Ashley Madison is a site offering hook-ups for people looking to have affairs – commonly referred to as an adultery or infidelity site. Call me a prude but, personally, I find it astonishing that these types of sites even exist, let alone have proven to be so popular.

ashley_madison

I can’t imagine a situation where personal information held in an online database could be any more sensitive. Imagine the panic then, when news of the Ashley Madison breach surfaced a little over a month ago. At that time, the hackers threatened to out all the “cheating dirtbags” they could find – that is, unless parent company Avid Life Media (ALM) shut it down along with its other hook-up sites Cougar Life and Established Men.

Weeks rolled by with no details emerging and I can only imagine the growing sense of relief felt by the millions of Ashley Madison users. Alas, for them, several days ago, their worst nightmare returned with a vengeance. A huge file – just under 10 gigabytes in size – was made available via BitTorrent. While there is nothing in the file itself to confirm that it specifically relates to Ashley Madison, a number of security researchers have provided anecdotal evidence which clearly points in that direction.

Security reporter Brian Krebs, who had initially shown some scepticism over the dump, now suggests it is genuine, publishing an update to his latest blog post in which he says:


I’ve now spoken with three vouched sources who all have reported finding their information and last four digits of their credit card numbers in the leaked database… I’m sure there are millions of AshleyMadison users who wish it weren’t so, but there is every indication this dump is the real deal.

Contained within the file are email addresses, profile descriptions, postal addresses, GPS locations, sexual preferences and weight and height details. A separate file containing credit card transaction data was also published (although it does not include card numbers or billing addresses).

A message included with the data from the Impact Team – the group allegedly behind the breach – says any consequences of the dump are on ALM, who “failed you and lied to you.” The Impact Team went on to suggest that affected users should prosecute the company and claim damages.

Text message included with the file dump

If this data dump is indeed genuine, which is looking more and more likely, the consequences could well be long term and far reaching. Apart from the potential affect on so many relationships, I think it’s pretty safe to assume that, among the millions of users, there would be a fair number of high profile names also subject to disclosure.

For its part, Ashley Madison says it has now bolstered its security – a bit like shutting the stable door after the horse has bolted methinks – and is continuing to investigate the breach while also appealing for help in catching those responsible.


It certainly is a mess – some might say a self inflicted mess. What do you think?

 

About the Author

Jim Hillier

Jim is the resident freeware aficionado at DCT. A computer veteran with 30+ years experience who first started writing about computers and tech back in the days when freeware was actually free. His first computer was a TRS-80 in the 1980s, he progressed through the Commodore series of computers before moving to PCs in the 1990s. Now retired (aka an old geezer), Jim retains his passion for all things tech and still enjoys building and repairing computers for a select clientele... as well as writing for DCT, of course.

3 Comments

  1. Like you Jim I am just to old fashioned that kind of stuff. If I was fool enough to have an affair, I sure as hell wouldn’t being doing it through a website and have everything posted out in cyberspace, I think it just shows how stupid people can be.

  2. I agree Jim and dandl.
    Over the years the Internet has brought many people’s ‘odd/strange/secret’ behavior into the open. Based on more loopholes being discovered in security every day it makes one wonder how many people still believe that every scrap of their personal and private information can be hidden forever behind ‘QuErTy’ or ‘hunk A1’ passwords.

    Jonno

  3. Who is anyone to judge his brothers’ and sisters’ behavior, moreover to denounce them? This is a frightening trend where moralists — or excited mixed-up savages — intend to punish those they have declared guilty. The scheme which would dare resume the complexity of life to the simplicity of a binary state guilty/innocent is a challenge for the spirit and for the brains. This is why we have churches and laws : bypassing them is outrageous and, personally, revolts me far more than anything else : no one is entitled to auto-proclame himself God no more than a righter of wrongs.

    This story is one among others where you see on social sites and elsewhere groups arise ready to bring justice, what justice? Theirs. Like in a Western’s mad town back in the 19th century with the “hang ’em” expeditions. We are in 2015. To observe this is stunning : the limits of presumptuousness seem to advance as fast as the egos. Stunning.