The Toronto company behind the Ashley Madison and several other dating Web sites is scrambling today to find out how much damage has been done in a hack of its systems, used by some 40 million subscribers.
According to security blogger Brian Krebs, caches of data from the site, whose tagline is “Life is short. Have an affair,” has been posted online by a group called The Impact Team.
Sites Ashley Madison, Cougar Life and Established Men are owned by Avid Life Media Inc., which this morning posted a release saying it has been notified of an attack.
“We apologize for this unprovoked and criminal intrusion into our customers’ information. The current business world has proven to be one in which no company’s online assets are safe from cyber-vandalism, with Avid Life Media being only the latest among many companies to have been attacked, despite investing in the latest privacy and security technologies.”
The infiltration took place despite Avid Life Media having “stringent security measures in place, including working with leading IT vendors from around the world,” the release said. “These security measures have unfortunately not prevented this attack to our system,” it added.
According to Krebs in addition to some account data the hackers leaked maps of internal company servers, employee network account information, company bank account data and salary information.
The Impact Team justified its attack in a message on Pastebin by saying it was a response to Ashley Madison’s charge of $19 to fully remove members profile information. But also it complains the sites encourage sexual cheating. The attackers demand two Web sites — Ashley Madison and Established Men — be shut or more compromising and financial data will be released.
The message says the attackers took over the entire office and production domains and thousands of systems, “and over the past few years have taken all customer information databases, complete source code repositories, financial records, documentation, and emails.”
On its Web site Avid Life Media says Ashley Madison is Canada’s oldest dot-com, a site that connects married men and women looking to have a discrete affair. It says the site has more than 33 million members in 46 countries, with someone new joining every six seconds. Cougar Life is to “give women a site where they could feel comfortable sharing their real age and circumstances with more than 5,000,000 members. Established Men “connects ambitious and attractive young women with successful and generous benefactors to fulfill their lifestyle needs.”
In April Avid Life Media’s head of international relations, Christoph Kremer, told Bloomberg News the company hoped to make an initial public offering on a British stock exchange after a failed attempt for an IPO here in 2014. Kremer said AshleyMadison had sales of $115 million last year. Kremer estimated Avid Life’s value at $1 billion.