Cheating spouses today rushed to delete their profiles on a dating website for adulterers as hackers threatened to expose their infidelity by posting their sexual fantasies and naked pictures online.
The Ashley Madison website promises its 37million members worldwide – including 1.2million in the UK – complete ‘anonymity’ and has the motto: ‘Life is short. Have an affair.’
Hacking group the ‘Impact Team’ claim they have stolen their details and will publish all names, addresses, credit card details and sexual demands unless it is shut down.
Ashley Madison has today waived its £15 ($19) fee to delete profiles as experts claimed the personal data would probably be sold on ‘to the highest bidder’.
The hackers also stole details for members of Cougar Life, a website for older women who want to date young men, and Established Men, which helps ‘successful’ men meet ‘young and beautiful women’.
They asked for Established Men to be taken offline, along with Ashley Madison, but did not make the same request of Cougar Life, suggesting they are more interested in exposing unfaithful men.
One British Ashley Madison user, called Natalie, is one of the 1.2million in the UK scared her husband will discover her infidelity.
She says that she started using the site during a ‘rocky patch’ in her marriage, but has not logged since 2011.
She told The Sun: ‘Things with my husband improved and I haven’t logged in to the website in years. Now I feel sick to my stomach that my past could come back to haunt me’.
Canadian owners Avid Life Media have brought in the police and also believe a company insider may have helped hackers grab the information.
CEO Noel Biderman, the self-styled ‘King of Infidelity’ who set up the website with his wife Amanda, believes that a hacker with ties to the site’s technical services is the culprit behind the privacy breach.
‘I’ve got their profile right in front of me, all their work credentials. It was definitely a person here that was not an employee but certainly had touched our technical services,’ Biderman told Krebs On Security.
Experts have warned the stolen data could be sold on to criminal gangs or used to blackmail members.
One hacking insider, named only as Vinnie, told Sky News the valuable data will likely be sold on the ‘Dark Web’ to ‘the highest bidder’.
He said: ‘I don’t think they’re going to release them. They have a better chance of selling on to someone else. They’ll profit from this in a big way, especially with the size of this database.’
The cyber criminals have already published a small amount of the information online, and say they will continue divulging the secrets of Ashley Madison’s would-be adulterers until the service is closed for good.
The hackers have claimed that even cheaters who have paid Ashley Madison to delete their information from its files are at risk – making the site millions, but claim these details were never fully deleted.
Ashley Madison believe the hacker may have been helped by an insider.
The anti-affair group said in a statement: ‘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.’
he website charges members £15 for what it says is a ‘full delete’ of information that should leave no footprint. However, the hackers claim this service was a ‘complete lie’.
‘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,’ they said.
Avid Life Media, the firm behind Ashley Madison, admitted yesterday that there had been an ‘unprovoked and criminal intrusion’ but did not confirm how much data had been stolen.
Independent security expert Brian Krebs said the information that has already been published appears to be genuine.
The security breach is bad news for Ashley Madison, which has been battling to gain respectability after it was dubbed the ‘Google of cheating’.
It even hoped to float on the London Stock Exchange later this year.
The Canadian company said in April it thought British investors would be more likely to buy into the business because Europeans have a more ‘laissez-faire’ attitude to cheating.
However, even open-minded Europeans found Ashley Madison’ attempts to make money from adultery a step too far.
Many of the brokers it would have relied on to sell shares in Britain refused to deal with the company, amid concerns that it leads to family breakdowns.
Avid Life Media said last night that it had hired ‘one of the world’s top IT security teams’ to limit the fall-out.
The company is also using copyright law to try and remove some of the leaked material from the internet.
The site once used Prince Charles in its adverts, asking would-be customers what he has in common with Bill Clinton.
The royal was famously unfaithful to Princess Diana, while the former US president had a fling with intern Monica Lewinsky.
The criminals have threatened to continue leaking data until the website is closed down and released a statement which said: ‘Too bad for those men, they’re cheating dirtbags and deserve no such discretion.’
Ashley Madison promises complete discretion to its users and advertises a ‘full delete’ feature for a charge of $20 (about £13) – which includes ‘removal of site usage history and personally identifiable information’.
But the hackers claim users’ purchase details, including their names and address, are not actually wiped and they say ALM made £1.1million ($1.7) from the feature last year.
The Impact Team posted a lengthy manifesto online alongside the stolen data explaining their actions.
It read: ‘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.
‘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.
‘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.
‘Our one apology is to Mark Steele (Director of Security). You did everything you could, but nothing you could have done could have stopped this.’
The hack comes less than two months after cyber-criminals stole and published user data on millions of accounts from hookup site AdultFriendFinder.
Mr Biderman added: ‘We’re on the doorstep of [confirming] who we believe is the culprit, and unfortunately that may have triggered this mass publication.
A spokesman for AshleyMadison added: ‘Following the earlier unprovoked and criminal intrusion into our system, Avid Life Media immediately engaged one of the world’s top IT security teams to take every possible step toward mitigating the attack.
‘Using the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), our team has now successfully removed the all posts related to this incident as well as all Personally Identifiable Information (PII) about our users published online. We have always had the confidentiality of our customers’ information foremost in our minds and are pleased that the provisions included in the DMCA have been effective in addressing this matter.
‘Our team of forensics experts and security professionals, in addition to law enforcement, are continuing to investigate this incident and we will continue to provide updates as they become available.’
Revealed: Ashley Madison founder has made $1bn from the infidelity of others and admits: ‘I’d cheat on my wife so fast’
He is the founder of the world’s largest cheating network serving 37million people in 50 countries.
Noel Biderman says he has made $1billion from those desperate to have affairs and admits he would cheat on his own wife if his marriage was sexless.
In fact Biderman says his site Ashley Madison has the power to save marriages rather than destroy them.
He boasts that ‘life is short, have an affair’ and the multi-millionaire father-of-two admits being happily married for more than 10 years would not necessarily keep him monogamous.
He formed Ashley Madison with his wife Amanda, but should their sex life dry up he would try to find a new partner.
In fact Biderman believes his website’s aim – helping people have affairs – saves marriages.
Speaking to the Evening Standard about his own marriage last year, he said: ‘We’re incredibly communicative about our sexual needs.
‘But if I woke up beside my wife and it was the 200th day we hadn’t been intimate with one another and it looked like nothing would change, I would cheat so fast.
‘I would cheat long before I would get a divorce. If you have children that you love and a home that you built together and a future that you planned — why would you give that up just for sex?’
Mr Biderman came up with the idea for the extra-marital dating site in the 1990s, after a career as a sports attorney apparently made him realise how much time and money his clients spent on mistresses while they were away on tour.
he site has made him a self-made multi-millionaire and he claims it is worth at least £669million ($1 billion).
Despite its risqué nature, Mr Biderman’s wife doesn’t appear to mind because she agrees it is a ‘sound business idea’.
The pair insist the social network is just a tool and no one can force anyone to betray a spouse and even believe the dating website can actually help save marriages.
M Biderman said previously: ‘The reason people have affairs is that they want to stay married.
‘What I get is a lot of people who come back to me and say: ‘Listen, this has made me a better partner.’
‘They were angry and taking things out on their family. The sexual frustration they were feeling, they start having the affair and all of a sudden, that stress is removed. It’s very cathartic for those people.
‘If you come home and you’ve had an affair earlier in the day, it might be easier not to be frustrated with your partner. The conversation could take a different directional tone and that can lead to intimacy.
He also has previously said: ‘My belief is that people use affairs to preserve their marriage.’
Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3168620/CEO-Ashley-Madison-says-hack-inside-job-culprits-post-personal-information-users.html#ixzz3gdMG6pJf
Follow us: @MailOnline on Twitter | DailyMail on Facebook
Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3168620/CEO-Ashley-Madison-says-hack-inside-job-culprits-post-personal-information-users.html#ixzz3gdMCb8AS
Follow us: @MailOnline on Twitter | DailyMail on Facebook