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Ashley Madison Hack Exposes More Than Just Data

Ashley Madison has a corporate slogan: “Life is short, have an affair.”

American comedian Chris Rock famously said, “Life’s not short, life is long. Especially if you make bad decisions.”

And as the work day kicks off today, those who decided that life was indeed short enough to have an Ashley Madison affair could spend today realizing exactly how long life can be. Hackers, it seems, have made off with a pile of user data from the site and are now threatening to start calling out those cheaters.

Yikes.

According to Brian Krebs — the security blogger who first noted the breach — a hacker group calling themselves “Impact Team” broke into Ashley Madison’s backend and made off with an as yet to be determined amount of user data. Credit card data is just the start of it, and in some ways, the least concerning. Some of the data that is reportedly compromised includes that related to its customers’ secret sexual fantasies — matched nicely and neatly with their credit card transactions data.

Ah yes, the power of Big Data.

"At this time, we have been able to secure our sites and close the unauthorized access points. We are working with law enforcement agencies, which are investigating this criminal act,” said Avid Life Media, Ashley Madison’s parent company, in a statement.

Outlined in a manifesto by the hackers, it seems what had initially drawn the group’s ire was Ashley Madison’s offer of “full delete” services, which allowed customers to have their data removed from the site for around $20.

"Full Delete netted [Avid Life Media] $1.7 million in revenue in 2014. It’s also 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."

Avid Life has said they will stop selling the service and instead offer it for free.

However, it looks like that might be a case of too little, too late for these hackers who say they will release all the data about Ashley Madison’s users if the site doesn’t close down entirely.

 

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