LONG ISLAND, NY – According to the New York Times, an online website catering to adulterers was targeted by a group of hackers which could lead to hundreds of divorces if any personal information is actually leaked.
Ashley Madison, the infidelity-focused matchmaking site whose slogan is “Life is short. Have an affair,” was the target of a huge hack this weekend, and those behind it are threatening to reveal data related to the accounts of potentially millions of members.
The hacker or hackers, who go by the name “The Impact Team,” stole “maps of internal company servers, employee network account information, company bank account data and salary information,” in addition to information relating to 40 million users of Ashley Madison and its sister sites, Cougar Life and Established Men.
If Ashley Madison is not shut down immediately, these hackers are threatening to reveal users who have created profiles on the site with the motivation to punish infidelity. “Too bad for those men, they’re cheating dirt-bags and deserve no such discretion,” said the Hackers.
People aren’t perfect. Some may not be happy in their marriage, some might be questioning their sexuality and others, well, thy might have just simply made a mistake.
Jacqueline Newman, who is a a Family Law Attorney & Managing Partner at Berkman Bottger Newman & Rodd in NYC believes that all users on Ashley Madison take a risk when using the dating service.
“I think that at the end of the day people take a risk when they do anything online. Ashely Madison swore secrecy and confidentiality online, but anytime you do anything online whether it be making a purchase, or using a dating website I think you take the chances you can be discovered at some point,” said Newman.
An article from NYmag.com talks about two users who decided to go public on their reasons why they decided to go on Ashley Madison.
In fact, after taking a look at Ashley Madison’s site, most users know exactly what they are doing. Individuals are looking to be pleased. For example one member’s profile caption states that he’s a “fun loving risk taker.” Another is searching for an individual he can “share his most secret desires with.”
Both men and women cheat because they feel the necessity to fulfill their hormones and satisfy their sex drives. Some users go to Ashley Madison because they feel as if they have a void in their marriage, they’re lacking the most important credentials in a marriage; the sex. Others just want the satisfaction of another woman or man, and some just want the adrenaline rush of being with another person besides your spouse, or worse, the thrill of doing something they’re just not supposed to be doing.
If the hackers reveal user’s information, many relationships will suffer, but if the couple intends to work it out together, the issue can be solved and a divorce won’t be necessary.
“I think that there are many situations where matches don’t automatically break up because of infidelity. You don’t know if people are just browsing, or they are actually meeting people. It opens the doors to trust issues leading to divorce. People will call it off, but others will try to work it out,” said Newman.
The hackers who go under the name “The Impact Team” Sent out this message threatening that if Ashley Madison and it’s partner websites are not shut down all users private information including photos and interests will be leaked for spouses to see.
The data released by the hacker(s) includes sensitive internal data which was stolen from Avid Life Media (ALM) , which is the Toronto-based firm that owns Ashley Madison and other hookup sites including Established Men and Cougar life. Established Men is an online site which allows older financially stable men to pay for sex.
I asked Newman if she thought the hackers could be antagonized wives acting out because they caught their husbands on the site, but confirmed that the group of hackers came from Russia and the act was more sophisticated than we could imagine. The hack was not motivated by anger, but by money, said Newman.
Supposedly, these hackers are upset that the Ashley Madison forces users to pay a fee of $20 to remove their profiles off the website. Hackers claim that after paying the necessary funds to have their information fully removed the data is still lingering in their system. Personal information, including sexual fantasies and private photos still stay in the site’s database. In fact, members do not have to pay a fee to delete their profiles, directions that lead them through the process become very lengthy and confusing. They eventually are linked to the page where they need to pay the fee, but can easily delete their profiles another way which doesn’t require any money, according to Arstechnica.com
Some users create an Ashley Madison profile to just browse through the online dating profile. This profile shows that not every user is in a relationship and cheating. Some are just interested in what’s out there, curious you might say.
Users on Ashley Madison are fully aware of what they are doing and they know it is completely wrong and can permanently damage the relationship with their significant other. When creating a profile on the site, users have the ability to upload a photo and alter the image where they can have a bar censoring their eyes, or even a Mardi Gras mask over their face to hide their identities.
NewsLI.com Asked Newman to suggest ways to cope with relationship issues in case the hackers do reveal information and spouses do find out about their lovers actions. Newman said that most marriages break down because of bad communication. She believes that lovers who are struggling in a bad relationship or suffer from matters of infidelity should try to resolve the issues before filing for a divorce.
“I think that you should seek therapy via churches, temples or any other mechanism to strengthen the relationship before walking into a divorce attorney’s office,” she said.
According to Krebs OnSecurity, ALM’s Chief Executive Noel Biderman who confirmed the hack claimed that the company is “Working diligently and feverishly” to take down ALM’s intellectual property.
“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. Any and all parties responsible for this act of cyber–terrorism will be held responsible, said ALM in a recent statement.