Ashley Madison is a dating site whose slogan is “Life is short. Have an affair.” On top of that, its home page shows a woman holding a finger to her lips. With a claimed 37m users, it is one of the biggest of its sort. So much for promising to keep secrets. Last month a group of hackers called Impact Team stole the site’s user database and transaction history going back to 2007, and this week they released it online. From emails, addresses and phone numbers to conversations and names (as well as a huge amount of internal corporate data), everything surfaced to the public and countless relationships and marriages were obviously imploded.
Unlike many dating sites, Ashley Madison does not charge for membership directly. Instead of that, users pay for credits, which are used to send messages and open chat sessions. That is one of the reasons that the Ashley Madison site was at the top places on its category. In fact, the site offers a three-month money-back guarantee and is festooned with logos and icons emphasising trustworthiness, security and discretion.
“The main dump is hosted on a Tor “hidden service” – a website which can only be accessed through the anonymous browser. Unlike a normal website, which visitors connect to directly, a hidden service is accessed via an encrypted connection routed through third-parties which obscure the website’s address from its visitors, and vice-versa”, mentions The Guardian about this scandal.
Currently, no one knows who is responsible for this activity. However, the FBI said yesterday that they are investigating the case. FBI’s spokesman refused to give any further information on his written statement. Also, according to CNN all the personal data that was stolen, ended up going public because Avid Life Media, the Canadian company that operates a portfolio of similarly niche and controversial dating sites, refused to seize its operations as the hackers demanded.
Now every member of the site that was a victim of the attack, expects the FBI’s investigation to point to the people responsible for this mess.