In the six months its been since adultery dating website Ashley Madison was hacked and the details of more than 33million users were released online, blackmail threats are still ongoing. Spouses of Ashley Madison users targeted for blackmail, as well as the users themselves. The threats vary in amounts demanded ranging in excess of $2500 but all of them are in Bitcoin form, a method which is harder to track.
Back when the database was first hacked back in July, blackmails were sent out to users who obviously didn’t want their accounts to be known to spouses or family. But if threats were not met, then a warning was given and it appears now the hackers are staying true to their word. The threats were electronically sent first via email then actual physical letters were sent to addresses. But many users were spared the threats due to the lack of identity verification used for sign ups.
The latest blackmails are now sent straight to the spouses of those members of the website and letters include personal details and an option to pay or the information goes public. The hack first happened in 2015 by a group of hackers known as Impact Team, who in fact were protesting against a paid feature on the website; Full Delete which charged members £15, to fully remove their information from the website. But in actual fact, even that feature did not remove all data.
The hackers, Impact Team, contacted the company behind Ashley Madison demanding closure of the website or face backlash when all member’s identities are revealed. The company ignored such requests and remained in operation, prompting the hackers to release over 33million user details on the internet.
This is just another case that shows how vulnerable your personal data can be online. Even if you do not use a website such as Ashley Madison, your data is still existing online in various forms without ever really knowing where it is or how safe it is. By using a VPN you can at least protect your online presence with a secure and encrypted connection preventing anyone from viewing your online activity.
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