A file of 10GB, containing all e-mails, member profiles, credit-card transactions and other sensitive information was made publically available as a BitTorrent file.
Ashley Madison is a website that facilitates extramarital affairs. The site was hacked by a group of hackers named The Impact Team, taking control of personal information of 37 million people using the service of the site and its partner sites, Cougar Life and Established Men, all owned by Canada’s Avid Life Media (ALM).
The hacker group in a statement said, “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.”
The reason stated by the hackers was that ALM had lied to users when it said it would remove personal details from its sites for a $19 fee. Further they added that Ashley Madison’s full paid-delete feature promises removal of site usage history and personally identifiable information from the site, but users’ purchase details (credit card details), including real name and address, are not erased.
It is important to note that the website’s sign-up process never verified the email addresses signed-up by its users. So they are high possibilities of people having a fake identity account on the website. One email in the data dump, for example, appears to belong to former UK Prime Minister Tony Blair.
The company (ALM) in a statement said, “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.” Further adding it said, “The criminal, or criminals, involved in this act have appointed themselves as the moral judge, juror, and executioner, seeing fit to impose a personal notion of virtue on all of society. We will not sit idly by and allow these thieves to force their personal ideology on citizens around the world.”