More than a month after the threats by an anonymous hacking group who protested against the ethics of the Ashley Madison dating website, the hackers have fulfilled their threat and released vast amounts of data. The extramarital dating website, which encourages those who are in marriages and relationships, to anonymously connect with other members to hook up with. It wasn’t just the website’s unethical stance that has irked the hacking group, the Impact Team, but how they go about their business, including a £15 ‘cancellation’ fee, which supposedly removed the customer’s details, but in actual fact didn’t delete them entirely. As threatened back then, if the company behind Ashley Madison did not close the site, then details will be released. Sure enough, the attacker’s fulfilled their promise as the hackers release sensitive customer details.
More than 33million user’s details were released upon the internet, in the form of a 10gb database, complete with names, addresses, email addresses, sexual preferences and other sensitive data. One user then went and created a website in which you could enter specific emails addresses to see if a match was found on Ashley Madison’s database, essentially a tool for suspicious spouses. User’s email addresses were found from all over the world, with more than 1.2million registered within the UK, with many belonging to gov.uk addresses, those who work within government. Hundreds of email addresses have been found belonging to .mil addresses, belonging to those in the US military.
The fact that the so-called ‘full deletion’ service advertised by the company didn’t actually remove user’s data, is the primary motive behind the Impact Team’s decision to target Ashley Madison, as it generated almost USD$1.7million in revenue in 2014 alone. It is still not known who is exactly behind the attack, but many believe it to be an inside job, someone who has intimate access to the company’s data, something that the owners of the website were apparently concerned about a month prior to the attack.
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