DENVER — We may see some marriages crumble after the adultery website Ashley Madison got hacked.
The website matches up people who want to cheat on their significant others.
Now, hackers are threatening to leak the very personal and embarrassing information of millions of its customers.
Ashley Madison and its two partner sites, CougarLife and Established Men, have 37-million users.
No doubt, many of them are sweating bullets — wondering if and when their names and pictures will show up on public websites — and make their relationships go up in smoke.
The website’s tagline is: “Life is short. Have an affair.”
Some now joke on Twitter, “Life’s too short. Upgrade your firewall,” because, a breach of data could expose countless breeches of trust.
“These are people who had an assumption of confidentiality and that has been compromised,” says cyber security expert Steve Fox with Security Pursuit in Lafayette.
Ashley Madison is the world’s leading married dating website for discreet encounters. Secret encounters that could soon be public.
Fox says this hack is different from most, in that it’s not based on money.
“What is unique in this case, this seems like blackmail or an extortion case where attackers claim to have stolen data from website customers, anonymous chats and personal information. The attackers are going back to the victim company saying, ‘Shut down or we will out you,'” he says.
A screenshot of what the hackers posted says: “AM AND EM MUST SHUT DOWN IMMEDIATELY PERMANENTLY.”
The hackers say: “…We will release all customer records, profiles with all the customers secret sexual fantasies, nude pictures and conversations and matching credit card transactions, real names and addresses….”
“Infidelity for us is about 30-percent,” says Private Investigator Grant Linhart of International Counterintelligence Services of Colorado or ICS.
Linhart, who often deals with the heartbreak of cheating, is familiar with Ashley Madison and other dating websites in his investigations. He says anyone who has ever used the site should probably fess up.
“They are rolling the dice when they are going to get caught. Because it’s out there and now, it’s not private. So honesty is the best approach, they should tell their spouse,” he says.
It’s estimated 30 to 60-percent of all spouses will engage in infidelity.
This hack is certainly making some people nervous.
“Oh gosh, I would be! This is my wife. You’re not on AshleyMadison.com, are you?” jokes John Moug on the 16th Street Mall.
“I think it’s great. It brings the truth out. It makes everyone an honest person, at that point,” says psychologist Jerome Schmidt.
“I don’t think that platform should be available at all because when you decide to marry a man, a woman or a partner, that’s who you need be with. If you’re a cheater, you’re a cheater — and I don’t like cheaters,” says a woman who didn’t want to be identified.
Ashley Madison’s parent company, Avid Life Media, says it has secured its sites and is working to identify who’s responsible.