back to article Ashley Madison invites red-faced cheats to bolt stable door for free

Adulterous hook-up site Ashley Madison is allowing all members to fully delete their profiles without charge in the aftermath of a serious data breach that threatens the site' future. Previously, if users wanted to delete their records (profile, pictures and messages sent through the system) they were obliged to pay around $20 …

  1. Yugguy

    Do it!

    There's a couple of people here in the office I have my suspicions about. I could do with a laugh.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Do it!

      I could do with being reminded which disposable email account I used to signed up with them.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Do it!

        And which disposable credit card, with your disposable name, and your disposable billing address?

        The name and address are disposable in the sense that you might wish to get a new one when you divorce and lose the house to your partner.

    2. Yugguy

      Re: Do it!

      HEHEHEHE judging by the thumbdowns there's more than just a couple.

  2. Ol'Peculier
    Coat

    Other sites

    Did anybody catch the woman on Jeremy Vine today that boasted that her site, which catered for the same type of user Ashley Maddision has, charges £135 for 4 weeks - and also claimed to have 1 MEELLION members?

    I'm off to build a website...

    1. Roq D. Kasba

      Re: Other sites

      Maybe it's a white label affiliate - I can't see someone taking £135M a month calling Jeremy Vine.

    2. Yugguy

      Re: Other sites

      Er no, as I'm not a collosal workshy worthless lazy dole scum I don't watch Jeremy Vine.

      I'm at work, busy posting drivel on here.

      1. Marvin O'Gravel Balloon Face
        Headmaster

        Re: Other sites

        Are you thinking of Jeremy Kyle? Jeremy Vine hosts a Radio2 show IIRC.

      2. Ol'Peculier

        Re: Other sites

        Funnely enough, I don't watch Jeremy Kyle either, and I'm at work too...

  3. Bob Dole (tm)
    Thumb Up

    Internet ... privacy?

    Yet another nail in the coffin that anything is truly Private on the Internet.

    If you put it out there, it can - and likely will - be stolen at some point.

  4. Erik4872

    Wow

    Good thing I'm happily married. I cannot imagine how much divorce lawyers, private investigators, Gawker and others are salivating over having that data released. Here in the US, our politicians have a pretty bad habit of using social media irresponsibly - a few are forced to quit over it; see the unfortunately-named Anthony Wiener. I'll bet more than a few Congresspersons will be on that list, as well as way more than a few executives of major corporations.

    I have no idea how people keep an affair secret. Between my wife, 2 kids and a very hectic job, I can barely tread water in my own life let alone keep something like that under wraps!!

    Maybe something like this will be the final lesson for people not to divulge their entire life on the Internet. Even cursory Facebook glances of potential job candidates reveal a lot about someone that you don't necessarily want to put out there. And, a lot of companies don't just do a cursory social media glance... My kids are still little, but I wonder if people will have wised up before I have to start telling them not to post drunk pictures on Instagram.

    1. Amorous Cowherder
      Happy

      I try not to make my life any harder than it has to be!

      This is what I think. I have no issues with people carrying on with each other, it's their business. I just don't think I could ever handle an affair, just seems like too much trouble plus I can't lie to save my life! Ha ha! Getting up in the morning, getting to work, paying bills and running around dealing with daily life within in a marriage is hard enough, let alone trying to maintain an illicit affair on the side. No wonder people need a website to organise it!

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: I try not to make my life any harder than it has to be!

        I have no sympathy for any of them, the filthy scum. I hope they all get outed. Having been on the receiving end of marital infidelity some years back, I know how it feels to find out your wife has been playing away from home. (Needless to say we divorced, I'm now remarried and extremely happy with life while she's lonely, single and full of regretful guilt. Ha!)

    2. Turtle

      @ Erik4872

      "our politicians have a pretty bad habit of using social media irresponsibly - a few are forced to quit over it; see the very-appropriately-named Anthony Wiener who is not only a dick himself but whose idea of courting a woman is to send her pictures of his dick..."

      FFY.

    3. LucreLout Silver badge

      Re: Wow

      I have no idea how people keep an affair secret.

      Remembering the golden rule might help them - If you're having an affair with someone from work, then everybody at work knows you're chewing the company candy. I know some people will disagree with me, and think they're smart or discreet enough to get away with it, but trust me on this, everybody knows.

      I'm happily married, so get to enjoy a nice guilt free sleep next to my Mrs. Reason, opposable thumbs, and mastery of our base urges are what seperates us from the animals.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Happy

        Re: Wow

        > ...next to my Mrs. Reason

        Took me a few attempts to realise that this is not your wife's second name.

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Please help!

      Hi my name is Mrs Erik4872, can someone please delete my details asap, before they go public and before Mr Erik4872 gets back from his very hectic job?

      (Note to self: check if this is the correct site to email)

    5. Morrolan

      Re: Wow

      Private investigators don't want that data released. It'll allow divorce lawyers to not have to pay their fees. PIs get hired when there's a suspicion of adultery but no evidence.

      The other people you forget to mention who'd love to see it out there are the tabloid journalists.

  5. Richard Taylor 2 Silver badge

    but will they

    Previously, if users wanted to delete their records (profile, pictures and messages sent through the system) they were obliged to pay around $20, but that money-spinner has been dropped in the aftermath of a hack that placed Ashley Madison's members in danger of exposure.

    It's been widely reported (and by the crew who broke in as well) that while taking the $20 they actually did not delete data. So why should their users believe anything now - especially useless if the data is out in de wild so to speak.

    While I have no sympathy with the slurpers, Ashley-Madison's business practices seem extremely dodgy - including fake 'contacts' - for which the morons (whoops users) actually paid to see.

    1. Dr Dan Holdsworth Silver badge

      Re: but will they

      I have no idea about US law, but under UK law the website operators would be legally obliged to hang onto the financial data of each member for six years or so, regardless of whether the user had asked for their records to be deleted. However, the financial transaction data would be fairly limited, and would only detail that User A paid the website $this_much on such and such a date, for website-based services.

      There isn't actually any detail of how much data was leaked, or how much data the attacker(s) stole. I would honestly doubt that very much data could be lifted from such a company without alarms being raised; the business transactions databases and credit card databases would seem to be the prime target in such a raid, with the users' sexual preferences and so on being a much more secondary target.

      The reasoning here is that whilst known-good credit card details have a ready market and a known going rate, blackmail material does not. Blackmailing people is difficult, intensive work and requires a near-psychopathic bastard to run it for best profit, with a high chance of the blackmailers getting caught either by law enforcement or by enraged adulterers. Furthermore, with photo-manipulation techniques being so prevalent these days, a supposed nude photo of some bloke doesn't have nearly the blackmail potential that it once had; all one needs to say is "That? Photoshopped, I'm much more handsome than that!" and bluff it out.

      No, the reason so little data from the hack is getting published is that little data was actually taken.

      1. sisk Silver badge

        Re: but will they

        under UK law the website operators would be legally obliged to hang onto the financial data of each member for six years or so

        True enough, but said data could be kept in a tape safe where even the world's best crackers couldn't access it without first getting a tech to physically walk it over to a tape drive.

        Furthermore, with photo-manipulation techniques being so prevalent these days, a supposed nude photo of some bloke doesn't have nearly the blackmail potential that it once had; all one needs to say is "That? Photoshopped, I'm much more handsome than that!" and bluff it out.

        I actually had someone try to blackmail me with a photoshopped picture once. First I laughed at him and then my wife did. Funny thing about naked photos: our spouses know what we look like naked. Few other people do in most cases. Though I've gotta say I WISH I looked as good as his supposed picture of me did.

        But I digress. My point is that if the photo's genuine then you're going to have a hard time explaining to your spouse how someone photoshopped it with the right skin tone and all the right proportions and distinguishing marks (tattoos, moles, birthmarks, whatever) in the right places.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: but will they

        of each member

        LOL. You wrote member!

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Bolt for Free ?

    It's a bit late late now, make a sentence out of these words:

    Door, horse and bolted.

    1. nuked

      Re: Bolt for Free ?

      Horse bolted door?

      That's about all that can be made...

      1. Roq D. Kasba

        Re: Bolt for Free ?

        Hoarded Blonde Torso

        What do I win?

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Bolt for Free ?

          Brothels Rodeo Do beats Hoarded Blonde Torso, I reckon.

      2. Stoneshop Silver badge

        Re: Bolt for Free ?

        Horse bolted door?

        Nope. The correct password is Correct Horse Battery Staple.

    2. Trigonoceps occipitalis

      Re: Bolt for Free ?

      "It's a bit late late now, make a sentence out of these words:

      Door, horse and bolted."

      You forgot "staple" and "battery".

      Perhaps AM used a high entropy password.

  7. mIRCat
    FAIL

    Asking nicely always works wonders

    "Using the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), our team has now successfully removed the all posts related to this incident as well as all Personally Identifiable Information (PII) about our users published online," ALN said in a statement.

    Because that's exactly how the internet works.

    1. Paul Woodhouse

      Re: Asking nicely always works wonders

      I too had to read that a few times to see if they were trying to say what I thought they were... I then laughed...

    2. This post has been deleted by its author

    3. TheVogon Silver badge

      Re: Asking nicely always works wonders

      ""Using the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), our team has now successfully removed the all posts related to this incident as well as all Personally Identifiable Information (PII) about our users published online,""

      And the copies located on servers outside of the colonies where DMCA notices are just something to laugh at?

    4. Steve Evans

      Re: Asking nicely always works wonders

      DMCA.... So you've shut down all the pages in the USA, and those outside of the USA who are bullied by misapplied US law.

      I can't see any reason how that could have missed any...

      When I have 5 minutes to waste I'll just confirm it's all gone for you...

      1. Steve Evans

        Re: Asking nicely always works wonders

        Ah, random down vote... Shall I compare these to a summers day?

        Well, in good old blighty, you're a hell of a lot more common than a summers day for a start!

        1. psychonaut

          Re: Asking nicely always works wonders

          and as we all know, one swallow does not a summer make. but it does make you smile! (well, every once in a blue moon now ive been going out with my fiancee for 10 years....could be worse, we could be married)

  8. Roger Kynaston

    Odd modus operandi

    I wonder why they announced the theft. If they had kept schtum and just done the extortion bit on the punters they could have kept going for ages.

    I predict a big upspend in security following this.

    1. gnasher729 Silver badge

      Re: Odd modus operandi

      There is a problem with blackmail - blackmail the wrong person, and you've had it. I bet that between the 37 million "customers", there will be a few dozen who have the talent, the knowledge and the tools to find out who is behind this, especially if given some financial help, a few dozen who can provide any amount of financial help, and a few dozen who would be capable and willing to remove some of the hackers permanently from the gene pool.

      1. Amorous Cowherder
        Facepalm

        Re: Odd modus operandi

        This isn't a Hollywood movie and most people aren't cosy with Mafia types, so that's all rather a bit far fetched don't you think?

        1. NumptyScrub
          Trollface

          Re: Odd modus operandi

          This isn't a Hollywood movie and most people aren't cosy with Mafia types, so that's all rather a bit far fetched don't you think?

          This isn't Hollywood, this is the same Real Life that had the US physically invade Iraq and deliberately depose the existing government, because they didn't like the existing government. Is that how a sane and developed First World nation is supposed to act in Real Life when dealing with other sovereign nations?

          Sometimes you really couldn't make this shit up, and depending on how much power some of these butthurt adulterous leches actually have (Congressmen maybe?), I would venture to suggest that some of the wacko suggestions about people getting offed because of this aren't actually as unlikely as some might think. Art imitates life, and absolute power corrupts absolutely...

        2. John H Woods Silver badge

          Re: Odd modus operandi

          "This isn't a Hollywood movie and most people aren't cosy with Mafia types, so that's all rather a bit far fetched don't you think?" --- Amorous Cowherder

          He did say "a few dozen" let's say 3 dozen - that's one in a million users might know (or indeed be) "someone useful" Doesn't seem too outrageous to me ...

        3. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Odd modus operandi

          "This isn't a Hollywood movie

          No, but it might be the anti-piracy fearfest before the movie...

      2. Roq D. Kasba

        Re: Odd modus operandi

        Probably also a few customers calling ALM recommending they pay whatever is being asked...or threatening to find them...

      3. Dan 10

        Re: Odd modus operandi

        " there will be a few dozen who have the talent, the knowledge and the tools to find out who is behind this"

        Sounds like a quote from a new "Taken" film...

  9. sisk Silver badge

    Reprehensible

    Personally I dislike that sites like ALM exist. The fact that they're making money by helping people cheat on their spouses is pretty low. But I have an even lower opinion of the type of person who'd steal data and then use it to blackmail a business into shutting it's doors. Even if it's a business I personally find less than savory extortion is just plain reprehensible.

    1. Cronus

      Re: Reprehensible

      I'm curious how you feel about trade sanctions etc etc

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I recent light of so many security breaches; I wish someone would post more information about how they got hacked i.e. what o/s, service, or program. This information would be useful for other IT administrators to learn from.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re. Reprehensible

    Blackmail, check!

    Dirty cheating scumbag celebrities and other assorted high up banksters and suchlike (pretty likely), check!

    Tabloid exposure for said cheating bottom feeders who deserve to have their sordid affairs made public.. check!

    The hackers did the law abiding public a favour by putting the fear of $Deity into said cheating lowlife, who will be getting what they deserve very soon! Bwahahahaha....

    (scuttles off to hide under a rock)

  12. MooJohn

    DMCA - the magic shield

    I love how they think removing a few forum posts via DMCA requests will somehow mitigate the damages. They present that as if it settles the incident for good. "Nothing to see here!"

  13. Christoph Silver badge

    "It’s unthinkable for any business, especially one that runs on discretion and trust, to betray its customers’ confidentiality,"

    ROFL!

  14. Henry Wertz 1 Gold badge

    Wreckless

    "This isn't a Hollywood movie and most people aren't cosy with Mafia types, so that's all rather a bit far fetched don't you think?"

    Very few know gangsters. But, with 37 million customers, it's statistically likely that a few do. Not farfetched at all. And honestly, I think these particular hackers may have it coming to them. Don't get me wrong, it's greasy to use a site like Ashley Madison, but the blackmail these hackers are perpetrating is rather wreckless.

    On a side note... 37 million? Really? That seems like rather a lot.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Wreckless

      Would be interesting to have citizenship statistics (perhaps the hackers will oblige) but with about 1 out of 2 marriages in the US ending in divorce, I don't think 37 million is far-fetched at all, even if it may be a little distressing / eye-opening.

      Talk about a growth market.

      1. oolor
        Big Brother

        Re: Wreckless

        37 million...

        It is now reported that Ottawa had ~20% of population signed up. This is just a bit suspicious when one look at demographic data.

        Then again, I always assume that sites requiring even numbers of women seeking sex (as opposed to dating) are putting up fake female profiles as a rule.

        While my experience with such sites is admittedly N=1 (had a friend running one, his wife was employed to 'respond' to messages and make profiles), my experience IRL (sadly N much larger than 1) is that women seeking sex who are ostensibly in 'relationships' usually do so with someone they know and generally are pretty good about picking male partners who want sex and not a relationship.

        The other thing that seems a bit fishy is that every time that I have overheard women discussing infidelity facilitated by a website, it has been one of the normal dating ones.

        Perhaps it caters to those (of both sexes) who are too impaired in emotional intelligence to deal with the non-sexual aspects of relationships. It certainly would go a long way to explain the rationalizing of some supposed users that have been quoted in media in the last couple days.

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Blackmail only really works if someone has done something seriously illegal.

    When what they are doing is only considered immoral by some in their community - then it is the community that is encouraging the blackmailer by providing them with the leverage.

    1. LucreLout Silver badge

      @AC

      Blackmail only really works if someone has done something seriously illegal.

      No it doesn't. Blackmail works whenever the cost of compliance is less than the cost of non-compliance.... sort of like industry regulation really.

      Lets pretend I'd signed up to the site as a member. Cheating on my mrs isn't clever but isn't illegal. Divorce, at least in Britain, would almost certainly result in my losing my home, most of my assets, and worst of all, my children.

      A woman scorned is unlikely to want to facilitate cooperative arrangements with the father of her children once she has won custody. Access will surely be arranged, but access is all it will ever be. Right now I can go hug my little ones whenever I like, put them to bed, make them dinner, play in the garden with them, read to them... so it goes. Access, well, access isn't that.

      In that hypothetical situation, blackmailing me to prevent data release would work all day long. I avoid that by not cheating... seems the easiest solution to me, but what do I know.

      1. Richard Taylor 2 Silver badge

        Just curious about the world view of the one down voter?

      2. greenawayr

        "Right now I can go hug my little ones whenever I like, put them to bed, make them dinner, play in the garden with them, read to them... so it goes. Access, well, access isn't that."

        Based on the content of your post and the complete lack of the obligatory "happily married" comment, I can only assume you're being blackmailed by your wife currently???

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Blackmail only really works if someone has done something seriously illegal.

      Nope. Blackmail works really well with anything the victim doesn't want to be public knowledge. Case in point, I've got a good friend who was blackmailed all through high school and well into college by a sleazebag who had pictures of him with his first boyfriend. There was nothing illegal going on, but he was far from ready to come out of the closet. When he did, thankfully, his blackmailer got to taste justice.

      I know another guy who lives in constant fear of someone obtaining proof that he's a crossdresser (he's a bit on the paranoid side). Anyone who had such proof and low moral fiber could easily blackmail him.

      You don't have to be doing anything illegal to be blackmailed. Embarrassing or stigmatizing is enough.

      Anon because there's a reason I know these guys so well and I'd rather not have those particular dots connected at this point in my life.

  16. Pascal Monett Silver badge

    "Using the Digital Millennium Copyright Act"

    The DMCA has generally been (ab)used by megacorps to stifle Free Speech and generally make artists' lives miserable. People have seen videos THEY RECORDED taken down because some twat working for a media corp thought it might have something to do with the crap his company was selling.

    The DMCA has also been copiously used as an excuse to shut someone up when said person was justifiably exposing wrongdoings or something that could make a corporation look ridiculous.

    How ironic is it that the one good use of this otherwise nefarious piece of trash is to protect cheaters ?

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Will any good come of this?

    If the deed is already done, it can't be un-done. Perhaps If they'd individually contacted people to suggest they change their ways a better outcome would occur. If this info is revealed, there may be a huge wave of divorces, children living in single parent families, a spike in murders, and more pressure on the housing market in areas where many ordinary people cannot afford to get on the housing ladder. Not to mention that some people may "cheat" with their partner's acceptance, but whom would not want others to find out about the situation.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Will any good come of this?

      Law of unintended consequences. Of course no good will come of it. People living in fear of discovery, will live in increased fear, and may even be victimized by the hackers or their confederates.

      Bad news all around, although it could lead to some interesting scandals.

      1. MJI Silver badge

        Re: Will any good come of this?

        Well I look at it like this

        1) Serves everyone right.!

        2) What a good business opportunity to replace them!

  18. MJI Silver badge

    A good warning to

    Not put dangerous to you information on the internet.

    That said I do have no sympathy for any users nor the owners.

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Inside job?

    Read on the CBC website that it is believed to have been an IT contractor. (And the DMCA does not apply to Canadian websites.)

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Affairs are a stupid way to have (extra) sex - that's what prostitutes are for. Just pay the money, get what you need and say goodbye afterwards with no strings attached. Simple. (Plus they always use condoms.)

    1. Havin_it

      That's an extremely narrow view of what people are looking for when they cheat. (Then again, I might be aberrant in finding little appeal in sex without an emotional connection.)

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    not many real women affected

    just a bunch of sad guys and a lot of bots and cam-pros losing a revenue stream.

  22. Gis Bun

    On a funny note, a Canadian network calculated that one in five adults living in the Ottawa region {Canada's capital city] are on the site. Expect many politicians!

  23. Matt Bryant Silver badge
    Alert

    Ooop!

    Few years ago, as a prank, we signed one of our particularly annoying PHBs up to one of these dating sites after she was silly enough to leave her credit card number on view. I can't remember if it was Ashley Madison, it may have been Adult FriendFinder, I can't remember, but I hope she hasn't gotten hitched in the meantime or this could be a hefty does of Karma winging her way!

  24. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "The Impact Team are threatening to leak this information unless parent firm Avid Life Media (ALM)"

    Hang on..if Avid Life Media, get their (ALM).

    It's only fair that The Impact Team get their (TIT) surely...

  25. danR2

    Why was this a 'hack'?

    If, as AM is implying, this was an inside job by some kind of contract worker, and the data acquisition was possible by privileges and passwords, then it is not a hack. Depending on the non-disclosure wording and Canadian law it could even conceivably not be subject to espionage prosecution.

  26. Crisp Silver badge

    You've got to wonder about a website that charges you to delete your profile

    But I guess you only find out about that once you try to delete it.

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