Ashley Madison, the dating website that caters to married and attached people, has been hit by hackers and is at risk of having the identities of its 37 million registered users revealed after a United States man's information was leaked.
The dating site for cheaters is active in 46 countries with more than 322,500 of its users based in South Africa. Earlier this year Ashley Madison released a "cheat sheet" detailing the demographics and preferences of its South African users.
The cheat sheet showed that more than 61.3% of Johannesburg users wanted a “short-term” fling while 62.1% of Cape Town subscribers want an “Anything Goes” affair.
Have a look at the full SA cheat sheet: Who are SA's biggest cheaters?
My Broadband reported that a group of hackers, called Impact Team, divulged the information of a United States user in an attempt to get the website to close down.
"We treat data as an asset that must be protected against loss and unauthorized access. To safeguard the confidentiality and security of your personally identifiable information, we use industry standard practices and technologies including but not limited to "firewalls", encrypted transmission via SSL (Secure Socket Layer) and strong data encryption of sensitive personal and/or financial information when it is stored to disk."
Despite this policy, the hackers leaked the United States male's name, profile ID, home address, email address and a "list of fantasies". This is according to an article by The Enterprise.
Impact Team claim to have stolen the information of all Ashely Madison's users and vowed to reveal the data if the online dating website doesn't terminate its service. The United States user was used as example by the hackers to showcase the information they had.
Ashley Madison said it released an investigation to determine the span of the matter, but did not close the site as per the request of the hackers.
The company acknowledged the offence to its users saying, "We apologise for this unprovoked and criminal intrusion into our customers’ information. We have always had the confidentiality of our customers’ information foremost in our minds, and have had stringent security measures in place, including working with leading IT vendors from around the world."
Until the investigation is complete or until the website and its hackers reach an agreement it is assumed that that 37 million worldwide cheaters risk having their identities made public.
Upon publishing this article, the homepage of the Ashley Madison website offered no warning to new or existing users indicating that user privacy might be compromised.
The date-site has offered its clients the option to delete their profiles and information. "As our customers’ privacy is of the utmost concern to us, we are now offering our full-delete option free to any member."
What social media had to say on the matter:
Cheating online: what SA's up to!
Do you trust your partner?
Telltale signs of cheating
Sources: Ashleymadison.com; Mybroadband.com; Enterprisenews.com