Hackers leak Ashley Madison founder’s emails

Ashley Madison’s Korean website is shown on a computer screen in Seoul, South Korea. (File photo: AP)

Emails sent by the founder of infidelity website AshleyMadison.com appear to have been exposed in a second, larger release of data stolen from its parent company, cyber security experts confirmed on Thursday.

The data dump by hackers who have attacked the site appears to include email messages linked to Noel Biderman, founder and chief executive officer of its Toronto-based parent company Avid Life Media.

In a message accompanying the release, the hackers said: “Hey Noel, you can admit it’s real now.”

That appeared to be a riposte to the company’s initial response to Tuesday’s dump that the data may not be authentic.

The earlier dump exposed millions of email addresses for customers of Ashley Madison - whose tagline is ‘Life is short. Have an affair.’ - including for U.S. government officials, UK civil servants and executives at European and North America corporations.

The U.S. Defense Department and Postal Service is also investigating the alleged use of military and other government email accounts on the site.

Former reality TV star and family values campaigner Josh Duggar admitted to cheating on his wife after reports he had subscribed to the site.

Executive Director of the Louisian Republican party Jason Doré told the Times-Piscuyune paper he was on a list of accounts because the site was used for “opposition research.”

Doré said an account was created under his name and his former personal credit card billing address in connection with the work of his law firm, Doré Jeansonne. He declined to say who he was using the account for.

In a sign of Ashley Madison’s deepening woes following the breach, lawyers have launched a class-action lawsuit seeking some $760 million in damages on behalf of Canadians whose information was leaked.

Eliot Shore, a widower who lives in Ottawa, is suing Avid Dating Life Inc andAvid Life Media Inc, the corporations that run Ashley Madison.com, law firms, Charney Lawyers and Sutts, and Strosberg said in a statement.

He joined the website “for a short time in search of companionship,” but never met anybody in person, they said in a statement.

Since the hack last month, Avid Life has indefinitely postponed the adultery site’s IPO plans. Avid values itself at $1 billion and reported revenue of $115 million in 2014, up 45 percent from the preceding year.

‘Paid delete’

The hackers object to the site’s business practices, specifically a “paid delete” option that allows people to pay to remove all their information but, they say, does not actually do that.

David Kennedy, founder and security consultant at TrustedSec, said that the fresh release appears to be authentic.

“Everything appears to be legit,” he said in an email. “We have portions downloaded and its confirmed legitimate thus far.”

A report in Vice Media’s online technology site Motherboard, which first reported the new data dump, said the release bore the same fingerprints as Tuesday’s release.

The additional release will likely ratchet up the pressure on Avid Life, which has been quiet about exactly how much and what sort of data was stolen in a breach in July.

The company, which also owns websites CougarLife.com and EstablishedMen.com, did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

“These guys are very diligent about not being caught,” said Erik Cabetas, managing partner of Include Security, who has done forensic work on the initial dump.

The release includes source code for the website as well as smartphone apps and proprietary company data, he added. The availability of the source code could allow other hackers to set up a similar site or find and exploit vulnerabilities on the actual site, which is still operating.

The 20-gigabyte data dump reported on Thursday would be roughly double the size of the earlier one.

Despite the negative publicity surrounding the attack, demand for Ashley Madison’s services has been steady since the data breach first announced in July, said Mark Brooks, CEO of Internet dating consultancy Courtland Brooks.

“It just goes to say that all press is good press ... The awareness of the brand is through the roof,” Brooks said.

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Last Update: Wednesday, 20 May 2020 KSA 09:46 - GMT 06:46
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