Life is short, but if you are one of the 32 million cheaters…*cough*…um, people who took some potentially bad advice, then that short life is now throwing you a curve. In July, the extramarital affairs dating website that lives by the motto, “Life is short. Have an affair” stopped libidos cold around the world by announcing their database had been hacked. Sensitive customer data to the tune of many, many gigabytes was now in the hands of a group calling themselves “The Impact Team.”
Who is The Impact Team?
Well, that is the real question, isn’t it? If you know the answer, you can bet there are some Canadian Mounties that want a word with you. Here is what we do know. The Impact Team is a group of anonymous hackers, not to be confused with the original anonymous hackers who call themselves “Anonymous.”
On July 15th, they publicly claimed to have stolen information from Ashley Madison’s user database and planned to release it on the Dark Web. Ashley Madison responded by calling the attack cyber-terrorism, which it is, and making some changes to secure their servers from unauthorized access. Better late than never, right Ashley?
On July 21st, The Impact Team supposedly posted 2,500 customer records online, although that number is in dispute. On August 18th, the group released another 10 gigabytes of data via a torrent file. Once uncompressed, the viewer would have access to 60 gigabytes of information that includes:
- Real names
- Search histories
- Credit card details
Just two days later, they released another large bundle of stolen data. One source states that 15,000 of the email addresses associated with the customer accounts came from military or government sites. Ouch.
What Ashley has to Say
Apparently, Ashley is not a bimbo. She is, in fact, a company called Avid Life Media. Avid admits they suffered a criminal intrusion. They are working with forensic experts and law enforcement agencies to find the culprits and bring them to justice.
In their defense, Avid did have some tight security measures in place. Although the customer records were online and accessible, the company used a secure hashing algorithm to encrypt their passwords. There may have been no absolute way to keep hackers out, but they did try.
The real problem here is that Ashley is a gold digger. Once you sign up for the site, your personal information has found a forever home unless you are willing to pay to get it removed. Ashley Madison requires users to pay a scrub fee or forever live with their virtual butts hanging in the wind. The hackers claim the scrub fee is a scam, but the site administration says it uses a hard-delete to remove the member profile once you fork over the cash.
So, what’s next in the torrent saga of Ashley Madison and The Impact Team? The hackers have been very clear about their end game. They put Avid Life Media on notice – take down Ashley Madison and its sister site Established Men permanently or they will continue the data carnage.
No matter how you look at it, hacking is a criminal act, regardless of the service offered by the website. You don’t get to ravage her just because you disagree with the morality Ashley and her members. What businesses can learn from this mess is you can never do too much to protect your network and customer data, so don’t get cocky. What consumers should know is nothing virtual is ever really secure, so think about that before you leap into to bed with just any online company.