The sensitive customer information was uploaded on Tuesday, and was initially only available via the anonymising Tor Web Browser. Enterprising coders have since created websites that make it possible to enter specific email addresses to see if they match the stolen customer records.
According to several reports, the files seem to include the login and account details for almost 33 million people, who at some point signed up for the site. The released files date all the way back to 2008. While they do not contain any actual credit card numbers, they do apparently include street addresses, names, and transactions While users of AshleyMadison.com may have falsified their information when signing up, (such as giving a false name), unless they used a pre-paid credit card, then their information will be contained somewhere within the near 10 gigabytes of stolen details.
AshleyMadison.com is a dating website aimed fully at men and women who are already married, and are actively looking to have affairs. The company has courted controversy since its founding by Noel Biderman back in 2001, but has proved to extremely successful as a workable business model. The company whose motto goes “Life is short, have an affair,” is no stranger to controversy, priding itself on its pro-infidelity approach to life. However Ashley Madison also prided itself on being ‘discrete,’ which may now no longer be a selling point for future users of the site.
According to Impact Team’s initial statement posted online, part of their motivation was to target a company that lies, and “profits on the pain of others.” Another motivating factor was apparently the fact that Ashley Madison’s full profile deletion option, that generated $1.7 million alone in 2014 for the company, is not quite as comprehensive as users might have hoped for: Users real names and addresses are still allegedly kept on file, and this information comprised part of Impact Team’s statement.
Impact Team said they would release all the customer records they had obtained unless AshleyMadison.com was taken “offline permanently in all forms.” Ashley Madison did not comply with this request. Avid Life Media, the company owning Ashley Madison, said in a statement: “This event is not an act of ‘hacktivism’, it is an act of criminality…”
The original theft of the Data took place in July, and evidence allegedly points to a former employee of Ashley Madison with inside knowledge of the company.