Hackers have stolen and leaked the personal details of users of Ashley Madison including “all the customers’ secret sexual fantasies and matching credit card transactions”.
The site’s operator confirmed there had been an “intrusion” but not its extent.
Ashley Madison is a dating website, with one important twist: Instead of connecting eligible singles, it caters to married people interested in having an affair.
The site claims to have 37 million members, and has in the past bragged about its data security.
The site is an obvious target for hackers as its databases have enormous potential for use in blackmail schemes.
A group or individual known as The Impact Team claimed to be behind the attack and that it had data on all of Ashley Madison’s 37 million users and its partner sites, Cougar Life and Established Men, all owned by Canada’s Avid Life Media (ALM).
The Impact Team claims to have access to the company’s user database and is threatening to release all of the information unless the site is taken down.
So far the group has released 40MB of data which include credit card details as well as internal ALM files and documents.
“Using the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), our team has now successfully removed the…posts related to this incident as well as all Personally Identifiable Information (PII) about our users published online,” ALM said in an emailed statement.
“Our team of forensics experts and security professionals, in addition to law enforcement, are continuing to investigate this incident and we will continue to provide updates as they become available.”
The hack follows a similar event in March, when more than 3.5 million people’s sexual preferences, fetishes and secrets were exposed after dating site Adult FriendFinder was hacked.
Adult FriendFinder, which boasts 64 million members, claims to have “helped millions of people find traditional partners, swinger groups, threesomes, and a variety of other alternative partners.”