by Lady Michelle Jennifer Santos
18 August 2015 (TSR) – Hackers have outed infidelity of millions of people around the world on Tuesday by releasing sensitive and confidential details of 37m user accounts on the adultery site Ashley Madison, including names, addresses, emails, credit card details and information about their sexual preferences and fantasies in a 9.7 gigabyte file called ‘Time’s Up!’
Majority of the 37 million users are married men, whose email addresses are from the British and US governments and armed forces, Ministry of Defense, major companies including IBM and BAE Systems, universities including Harvard and Yale,high-level executives at European and North America corporations, bankers, UN peacekeepers and even Vatican employees, and have have been outed by hackers from the Impact Team because they are considered ‘cheating dirtbags’.
The data from the website, whose tagline is “Life is short. Have an affair”, was released by hackers from the Impact Team cybergroup, and took the form of a 10GB database on the “dark web” that could be accessed through a specialised web browser called Tor. Hackers’ motivation is they want the site shut down.
More than 100 user accounts were registered with Ministry of Defence email addresses, and another 100-plus accounts were registered with emails ending in gov.uk, the general government domain as verified by The Guardian.
There are around 15,000 .mil addresses – the official US Military address – or .gov addresses, which is used by the US government, Daily Mail reported.
The data released appears to be genuine and exposes the infidelity of millions of people around the world.
The hackers also created a site for internet users to allow spouses to check whether their partners had an account on the adultery site by simply entering a specific email address to see if that matched a customer record.
The Ashley Madison website, which is known as the ‘Google of cheating’, has called the data breach ‘an act of criminality’ and the FBI is now investigating, Daily Mail reported.
Security experts said today the data breach will not only end marriages but could also leave people open to blackmail.
Adultery, under certain criteria including the misuse of government time and resources, is a crime in the U.S. armed forces and can lead to dishonorable discharge or imprisonment, Reuters reported.
One banker, who is named as working for Bank of America and outed on the site today, describes himself as having a ‘sex drive too high to handle’, Daily Mail reported.
Setting out his sexual fantasies and explaining why he is cheating on his wife, he says: ‘I need someone who is more sexual. I need someone who is willing to try anything’.
Ashley Madison was set up in 2001 by a Canadian entrepreneur, Noel Biderman, and courted controversy with its explicitly pro-infidelity stance. Its owner, Toronto-based Avid Life Media, said it was working with police and law-enforcement authorities in Canada and the US, The Guardian reported.
U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation and Canadian police investigate what the company believes was an inside job, Reuters reported.
The hacker attack has been a big blow to Toronto-based website firm and has indefinitely postponed the adultery site’s IPO plans. But many professions stand to benefit from the unfolding saga, from lawyers to therapists to cyber security firms, the reported said.
The public embarrassment and emotional toll is likely to be enormous on unsuspecting people whose extra-marital affairs may have been exposed on the web or even whose emails were used without their knowledge to sign up for the site, Reuters reported.
The hackers’ move to identify members of the marital cheating website appeared aimed at maximum damage to the company, which also runs websites such as Cougarlife.com and EstablishedMen.com, causing public embarrassment to its members, rather than financial gain.
Lawyers speculated whether any aggrieved members would launch legal action against the company, which claims to be the world’s second-largest dating website behindMatch.com, owned by IAC/InterActive Corp.
Avid Life values itself at $1 billion and reported revenue of $115 million in 2014, up 45 percent from the preceding year.