A vast data dump, purportedly exposing millions of users of a hookup service for cheating spouses, has been confirmed.
In a statement, Ashley Madison spokesman Anthony Macri (right) said the dump was a criminal act. He didn't mention that the company had kept the data, for reasons unknown, after charging its users to have it permanently deleted.
This event is not an act of hacktivism, it is an act of criminality. It is an illegal action against the individual members of AshleyMadison.com, as well as any freethinking people who choose to engage in fully lawful online activities. The criminal, or criminals, involved in this act have appointed themselves as the moral judge, juror, and executioner, seeing fit to impose a personal notion of virtue on all of society. We will not sit idly by and allow these thieves to force their personal ideology on citizens around the world. We are continuing to fully cooperate with law enforcement to seek to hold the guilty parties accountable to the strictest measures of the law.
The 10GB tranche exposes 37m accounts from a site marketed explicitly at people who wanted to cheat on their partners. It includes names, addresses, emails, card numbers, transactions and other personally-identifying information. Security researcher Brian Krebs says that it's the real deal.
I've now spoken with three vouched sources who all have reported finding their information and last four digits of their credit card numbers in the leaked database. Also, it occurs to me that it's been almost exactly 30 days since the original hack. Finally, all of the accounts created at Bugmenot.com for Ashleymadison.com prior to the original breach appear to be in the leaked data set as well. I'm sure there are millions of AshleyMadison users who wish it weren't so, but there is every indication this dump is the real deal.
Unlike the purely-financial (and easily reversed) ramifications of credit card fraud (as facilitated by typical userbase hacks 'n' dumps), this will impact the personal lives of millions of people. 4chan trolls are already targeting the spouses of people identified in the dump, writes John Herrman.
4. Anonymous internet posters have already discovered the email address of at least one public figure. In subsequent posts, they identify this person's partner. This person has been confronted on Twitter; I would not be surprised if the partner is currently getting alarming emails from strangers. This happened almost instantly after the leak. …
I may be overestimating how far things will unfold, but this feels like a momentous event. Barring some sort of heroic cleanup effort on the part of the entire internet—which I guess, between Twitter moderation and aggressive lawyering, isn't totally impossible—millions of lives may be about to change profoundly.
Ashley Madison's PR chief denouncing the data dump in post containing a toilet selfie? Makes you wonder.