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Hackers are threatening to release the details of millions of Ashley Madison users unless their demands are met.
The site, which geared at bringing together people looking for an extra-marital affair, prides itself on facilitating discreet encounters. All of that could however be blown out of the water if the hackers release the user databases, financial records, and private details of the service’s owners and 37 million users they are believed to have obtained.
The leak, first reported by security researcher Brian Krebs, now appears to have been confirmed by Noel Biderman, the CEO of Avid Life Media (ALM), the company which owns Ashley Madison.
“We’re not denying this happened,” Biderman told Krebs, adding that “Like us or not, this is still a criminal act.”
The hackers complaint appears to center around a US$19 fee site users can pay to completely scrub their profiles from the ALM sites.
According to the hackers, the service does not actually fully delete profiles.
“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’s demands continue:
“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.”
Despite the root cause of the demands, it seems the hackers aren’t exactly on the side of the site’s users either:
“Too bad for those men, they’re cheating dirtbags and deserve no such discretion,” the hackers continued. “Too bad for ALM, you promised secrecy but didn’t deliver. We’ve got the complete set of profiles in our DB 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.”
So far, the group appears to have released a very small amount of data, although it’s possible that they will continue to release more every day until their demands are met.