A group of hackers calling itself "The Impact Team" claims that it has successfully infiltrated the Ashley Madison website.
Ashley Madison is a social networking site owned by Avid Life Media (ALM) and is being touted by the company as a site that promises "discreet encounters" for users who are already married. It even carries the promotional tagline, "Life is short. Have an affair."
According to KrebsOnSecurity, an Internet security blog run by Brian Krebs, former cybercrime reporter for The Washington Post, the hackers are demanding that Ashley Madison, along with another site known as Established Men, be pulled down permanently. The group threatened that if the demands are not met, it would reveal user records and profiles, which include users' real names and "secret sexual fantasies."
"Too bad for those men, they're cheating dirtbags and deserve no such discretion," the hackers said. "Too bad for ALM, you promised secrecy but didn't deliver ... And with over 37 million members, mostly from the U.S. and Canada, a significant percentage of the population is about to have a very bad day, including many rich and powerful people."
One of the site's features that the hackers have placed a strong emphasis on is the so-called "Full Delete" service, which allows the members to request a full removal of their profiles on the site. This incurs a fee of $19.
The group said that ALM earned a net revenue of $1.7 million in 2014 even though what it promises to the users is allegedly a complete lie.
"Users almost always pay with credit card, their purchase details are not removed as promised."
Founded in 2011, the extramarital affairs website features a different kind of dating search for users who are into the "darker side" of finding a partner. Members use the site to look for partners for infidelity. It is currently the largest website in the world for married people who are looking for those they can start having a discreet affair with.
Apart from users in the U.S. and Canada, the site has also attracted 1 million users from Australia.
Noel Biderman, ALM CEO, confirmed that the site was hacked and that they are "working diligently and feverishly" to protect the company's intellectual property. They are also close to confirming the real culprit behind the hack as they intensify their investigation.
"We are working with law enforcement agencies, which are investigating this criminal act. Any and all parties responsible for this act of cyber-terrorism will be held responsible."