Life is short. Have an affair.
Acyber attack recently occurred, wherein the information of millions of members of a Canadian website promoting extramarital affairs has been held hostage until demands are met.
The person or people responsible for the cyber attack — The Impact Team — stole sensitive user data from Toronto-based Avid Life Media, who own and operate Ashley Madison (devoted to extramarital affairs), Cougar Life (devoted to older women hooking up with younger men), and Established Men (devoted to young women being paired with older, successful men). The group claims they will release all of the stolen information if Avid Life Media does not shut down these websites.
The Impact Team has already leaked a portion of the information they stole.
In a manifesto explaining the reasoning for the cyber attack on Avid Life Media, The Impact Team explains that part of the reason the cyber attack took place was because Avid Life Media lies to its users about scrubbing data from their servers. Avid Life Media claims that users can have all of their data scrubbed, via a “Full Delete” option, from their servers for a $19 fee. The Impact Team claims this is a lie and that Avid Life Media netted over $1.77 million off the “Full Delete” feature alone in 2014.
The Impact Team has demanded that Ashley Madison and Established Men be shut down permanently to avoid the full release of the stolen user information, which includes real names, addresses, employee documents, emails, secret sexual fantasies, and matching credit card information.
The Impact Team’s justification for the hack gets a little more personal as the manifesto continues. From Krebs on Security:
“Too bad for those men, they’re cheating dirtbags and deserve no such discretion,’ the hackers continued. ‘Too bad for ALM, you promised secrecy but didn’t deliver. We’ve got the complete set of profiles in our DB dumps, and we’ll release them soon if Ashley Madison stays online. And with over 37 million members, mostly from the US and Canada, a significant percentage of the population is about to have a very bad day, including many rich and powerful people.”
Look, I don’t support the idea of people having affairs, but at the same time, adultery is not a reason for personal information to be stolen and released via a cyber attack. These men and women who cheat on their spouses deserve discretion in doing so; the only two entities responsible for bringing their affairs to light are their spouse or their guilty conscience.
This isn’t to say that Avid Life Media is off the hook, though. Charging a fee for a service that isn’t rendered is bad for business, unethical, and even illegal. Should Avid Life Media be held to account? Absolutely. However, a cyber attack is not how it should be done.
As Avid Life Media Chief Executive Noel Biderman said when confirming the cyber attack took place:
“Like us or not, this is still a criminal act.”