August 21, 2015 –
Users of the cheating Website Ashley Madison faced a hard reality this week when hackers released private information on over 30 million users. The data released contains names, email addresses, login info, posting info, and home addresses. While embarrassing for millions of people, the problem is being exasperated by threats people are sending to email addresses found in the hack. Already, some Ashley Madison users have received emails demanding payment or else their information will be further exposed. Other emails contain links or zip files that can put malware onto a person’s computer.
SEE ALSO: CEO Resigns Over Ashley Madison Hack
Ashley Madison built its user base through encouraging married people to have affairs. The site’s tag line is, “Life is short. Have an affair.” They promote that tagline everywhere – TV, billboards, online, etc. A hacker organization calling itself “Impact Team” announced last month that it had cracked and copied Ashley Madison’s database and would expose the private information and identity of all Ashley Madison members unless Avid Life Media, who owns Ashley Madison, shut down both Ashley Madison and a second site, Established Gentlemen. The hackers gave Avid Life Media 30 days to comply.
This week, Impact Team followed through on its threat when Avid Life Media didn’t comply, releasing two download dumps of information exposing user names, email addresses, mailing addresses, login details, and other private information. The first dump came Tuesday. In a message titled, “Time’s Up!” the hackers stated:
“We have explained the fraud, deceit and stupidity of A.L.M. and their members. Now everyone gets to see their data.”
The impact was felt quick when reality TV star Josh Duggar’s name appeared on the list along with private information. Duggar, who is married, quickly admitted to using the cheating Website. He issued the following statement:
“I have been the biggest hypocrite ever. While espousing faith and family values, I have been unfaithful to my wife.
I am so ashamed of the double life that I have been living and am grieved for the hurt, pain and disgrace my sin has caused my wife and family, and most of all Jesus and all those who profess faith in Him.
I have brought hurt and a reproach to my family, close friends and the fans of our show with my actions.
The last few years, while publicly stating I was fighting against immorality in our country I was hiding my own personal failures.
As I am learning the hard way, we have the freedom to choose our actions, but we do not get to choose our consequences. I deeply regret all the hurt I have caused so many by being such a bad example.
I humbly ask for your forgiveness. Please pray for my precious wife Anna and our family during this time.”
Duggar reportedly spent close to $1000 over the last four years on Ashley Madison.
Jason Dore, the GOP Executive Director in Louisiana made a public announcement today that his name appears on the list because his law firm signed up on the service to do “opposition research” and that he didn’t participate in any inappropriate behavior.
Avid Life Media and Ashley Madison could be fighting legal battles for years to come over the breach. Ashley Madison promised users anonymity. They even allowed people to pay $19 with the promise of removing all their information removed from its database. However, hackers say that Ashley Madison failed to scrub information from those who paid and all their private information was also included in the dump.
The hack and failure to remove information from those who paid a fee could cost Ashley Madison and Avid Life Media a ton of money in lawsuits. In fact, just today two class action lawsuits were filed against Avid Life Media for $578 million dollars. The number of lawsuits is expected to explode.Lawsuits Filed Against Ashley Madison for $578 Million Dollars. Click To Tweet
In a new statement from Avid Life Media, they condemned the hack saying, in part:
“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 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. We are continuing to fully cooperate with law enforcement to seek to hold the guilty parties accountable to the strictest measures of the law.”
Avid Life Media, based out of Canada, says that the F.B.I., Royal Canadian Mounted Police, the Ontario Provincial Police, and the Toronto Police Services are all working to identify the hackers.
There is also an ongoing concern of extortion in light of thousands of email addresses, some which might have been spoofed, being from the military and government email accounts. The fear is that military or government officials could face extortion attempts to keep the information from being further publicized. The U.S. Defense Secretary, Ash Carter, addressed the Ashley Madison hack and information release during a daily briefing this week. Adultery is a punishable offense in the military and leaves members open to possible extortion. Carter says they are looking into the hack as a result.
Warnings are going out against people thinking of downloading the database of information. Experts say that because the information is the property of Avid Life Media, by downloading it, you could be considered in possession of stolen information.
The whole controversy isn’t likely to go away soon. The “Impact Team” hackers say they are in possession of hundreds of gigabytes of more information, including user photos that haven’t been released yet.
What do you think? Should Avid Life Media have complied with the hackers demand and shut down their service to protect their user database or did is it only fair that cheaters be exposed? Let us know in the Comments section below: