With the tagline “Life is Short. Have an Affair,” Ashley Madison users probably don’t want their online endeavors leaked to the entire world. Unfortunately, hackers have other ideas in mind.
AshleyMadison.com connects married individuals with others seeking to have extramarital relations, boasting more than 37 million current members. The company places emphasis on its discretion and security. Ironically enough, Ashely Madison has officially become the victim of one of the most highly publicized hacks this year.
Those responsible for the Ashley Madison hack, a group of individuals dubbed The Impact Team, have rather brow-raising motives.
The group claims to be targeting Ashley Madison as a result of unresolved privacy concerns. Ashley Madison requires users to pay $19 fee to completely delete their accounts. However, The Impact Team argues Ashley Madison does not remove payment card transactions (like the one used to pay the deactivation fee), and believes that the privacy agreement is misleading.
In response, the hackers decided to steal user data and slowly begin posting it online — a rather obscure response for a group of apparent privacy advocates.
The Impact Team began dumping large caches of users’ information online, claiming that they will continue to leak additional data unless Avid Life Media, the owner of Ashley Madison and other niche dating sites, closes AshleyMadison.com and EstablishedMen.com. The group’s specific demands may indicate that this attack was also morally motivated.
Besides user data — which includes names, addresses, romantic preferences and credit card data — the hackers also stole company and employee information, including network data, emails, salary information and other private documents. In total, 40MB of user and internal data have been released.
While The Impact Team’s overall motives aren’t necessarily clear at this point, the hack is grabbing nationwide attention, making both Ashley Madison and the wandering spouses it services tremble in fear.
The Ashley Madison hack comes at a crucial time for the company. Ashley Madison recently voiced plans to go public later this month, hoping the initial offering would yield as much as $200 million. In addition, AdultFriendFinder (a similar dating site) was just hacked two months ago, pointing out that these dating sites may not as private as these companies advertise.
Regardless of whether you have used either of these online dating sites, this breach brings up a question worth considering: Is anything you do online truly private?
Exercise caution when surfing the Web, especially when creating online accounts. Be sure to read associated privacy policies before enrolling to ensure you data is securely stored and not shared with third parties. Secure storage typically requires encryption, especially if your credit card information or Social Security number is saved.
Additionally, always know where your payment card information is being used. As with any payment transaction or information sharing, there is a risk of your data being compromised. Stay vigilant in taking proactive measures to safeguard your financial and personal information before you share it.
What are your views on the Ashley Madison hack? Share them in the comments below.