World

Hackers threaten to expose 37 million cheating spouses worldwide

Dear cheating husbands and wives worldwide, be afraid. Be very afraid.

Extramarital dating site Ashley Madison has been hacked. And its financial records and data on its 37 million users are now in the hands of hackers who go by the name The Impact Team.

The hackers are threatening to expose sensitive information such as the names, addresses, credit card details and sexual fantasies of the users unless Ashley Madison and dating website Established Men are taken offline permanently.

Both sites, along with dating website Cougar Life, are owned by Canada-based company Avid Life Media (ALM), which was the target of the hack.

Ashley Madison's tagline is: "Life is short. Have an affair." It boasts 37,565,000 users in about 46 countries including South Korea and Japan, and claims to be the world’s second-largest paid-for Internet dating website, behind Match.com, reported Bloomberg. 

Singapore's Media Development Authority banned the site in 2013, saying it constituted an attack on "our family values and public morality". 

'A complete lie'

The Impact Team released snippets of stolen information and claimed that the reason for the hack was that ALM had lied to its customers about its "full delete" feature, which allows users to erase their data for a small fee, reported security blog KrebsOnSecurity.

"Full Delete netted ALM $1.7mm in revenue in 2014. It’s also a complete lie," The Impact Team 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."

ALM said in a statement on Monday (July 20): "We apologise for this unprovoked and criminal intrusion into our customers' information."

It added: "At this time, we have been able to secure our sites, and close the unauthorised access points."

ALM Chief Executive Noel Biderman told KrebsOnSecurity: "Like us or not, this is still a criminal act."

Sources: The Verge, Gizmodo, KrebsOnSecurity, The Guardian

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