Members of Ashley Madison, an extra-marital dating site, are at a threat of getting exposed by hackers.
The Canadian-based social networking and online dating website was launched in 2001. Ashley Madison is marketed to people who are already in a relationship and the website's slogan is "Life is short. Have an affair."
Ashley Madison gets millions of visits every day. While the site promises to keep details of its members discreet, a hacker group has breached into the website's database, emails, domains and more and demanding the closure of the website. The hackers had also made unauthorized posts and images on the website.
Here are answers to some questions that many people would want to know about the cyberattack on Ashley Madison.
Who hacked Ashley Madison?
The hacker group is called "The Impact Team." The hackers are demanding that Avid Life Media (ALM), the parent company of Ashley Madison, to immediately and permanently close the dating website. The hackers also want the closure of Established Men, another dating site owned by ALM.
"Shutting down AM [Ashley Madison] and EM [Established Men] will cost you, but non-compliance will cost you more: We will release all customer records, profiles with all the customers' secrets, sexual fantasies, nude pictures, and conversations and matching credit card transactions, real names and addresses, and employee documents and emails," per the hackers threat that appeared on an unauthorized image on the website. This was first noted by KrebsOnSecurity, an online security blog.
Who's affected with the latest hack?
Ashley Madison has more than 37 million members who visit the website on a regular basis. A public exposure may affect the personal life of many members who have kept their clandestine Ashley Madison engagements a secret from their spouses.
Ashley Madison claimed that users who want completely delete of their data from the company's website can do so by paying £12 or about $19. However, there is bad news for Ashley Madison users who were using the services in the past and had opted for the complete delete.
Hackers claim that the complete delete service provided by Ashley Madison was a lie. The hackers say that even though some details of a user is deleted from the database after receiving the fee, some details such as real name and address still remained in the database.
What Ashley Madison is saying?
The company has issued an official statement confirming the breach in its system. The statement also suggests that the company has taken sufficient steps to secure the website.
"At this time, we have been able to secure our sites, and close the unauthorized access points. 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," per Ashley Madison's statement.
What security experts think?
Security experts suggest that hackers may have the intention to sell customer details to criminal groups, who may exploit the financial details or even blackmail customers.
What users should do?
There is nothing much that existing Ashley Madison users can do as their personal and confidential data have already been compromised. However, to secure their debit or credit card details customers should contact their banks. If they get any blackmailing threats, then the members should contact local authorities.
New customers who want to become members of Ashley Madison may want to wait a little longer before things are sorted out.
Are you a member or were a member of Ashley Madison? What do you think of the latest hacking attack on the website?