At the time, the hackers threatened the website owner, Avid Life Media, warning that they would release the data unless the website was taken down.
As a result of Avid Life Media failing to take down the Ashely Madison website, which specialises in the facilitation of adulterous relationships, the hackers reportedly distributed 10 gigabytes of data stolen from AshleyMadison.com, including usernames, 36 million email addresses, partial credit card details and passwords. The Online Security Magazine has also reported that the leak contains over 15,000 government and military email addresses. The authenticity of the stolen data is yet to be verified, but, many, including Security Journalist Brian Krebs, believe the data is genuine, Krebs said “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”.
Responding to the news, the owner of AshelyMadison.com, Avid Life Media, has explained in a statement: “This event is not an act of hacktivism, it is an act of criminality. It is an illegal action against the individual members of AshleyMadison.com, as well as any freethinking people who choose to engage in fully lawful online activities.”
The cyber attack highlights the danger of online dating sites which encourage users to share their personal details and desires and then fail to keep control of this information. With recent headlines emphasising the lack of security of online dating sites, users should take note – perhaps the Internet isn’t the best place to pursue a secret affair after all.