Ashley Madison’s Korean Web site shown on a computer screen in Seoul. AshleyMadison.com has 37 million users worldwide. (AP Photo/Lee Jin-man)

The dating site that enables cheating — AshleyMadison.com, which has 37 million users — has experienced some infidelity of its own.

Large amounts of data from Avid Life Media, the company that owns Ashley Madison as well as hookup sites Cougar Life and Established Men, have been posted online by a hacker or hackers, as reported by Krebs on Security, a site that monitors hacking worldwide.

[Online cheaters exposed after hackers access Ashley Madison hookup site]

It sounds like a high-tech hostage situation. The hackers, self-identified as the Impact Team, said in an online manifesto that they “decided to publish the information in response to alleged lies ALM told its customers about a service that allows members to completely erase their profile information for a $19 fee,” Krebs on Security reported. “According to the hackers, although the ‘full delete’ feature that Ashley Madison advertises promises ‘removal of site usage history and personally identifiable information from the site,’ users’ purchase details — including real name and address — aren’t actually scrubbed.”

The Impact Team is threatening to release customer records — “including profiles with all the customers’ secret sexual fantasies and matching credit card transactions, real names and addresses, and employee documents and emails,” Krebs on Security reported, unless Ashley Madison and Established Men are taken offline.

I imagine that data breaches rank low on customers’ secret fantasies.

Noel Biderman, ALM’s chief executive told Krebs on Security the hacking might’ve been perpetrated by someone who had access to the company’s network, such as a former employee or contractor. ALM released a statement Monday morning, saying the breach is being investigated. “At this time, we have been able to secure our sites, and close the unauthorized access points,” ALM’s statement said. “We are working with law enforcement agencies, which are investigating this criminal act. Any and all parties responsible for this act of cyber-terrorism will be held responsible.”

[Let the Ashley Madison hack remind you that no secrets are safe online]

Regardless of the site, cheaters are everywhere. A recent study found that 42 percent of Tinder users are in relationships. (See, also, this Elle essay in which a woman writes about her friend who’s engaged and is on Tinder “for work.”)

Whether or not you’re an Ashley Madison user, the breach is a good reminder that, when it comes to affairs of the heart, you probably shouldn’t do anything that you wouldn’t want others to know about. Thinking about arranging a late-night meetup while on a date with someone else? Careful. Your date might catch a glimpse of that text.

Sleeping with with two people while you’re in that not-yet-exclusive dating stage? Hey — you’re not exclusive! But how would you feel if the other people involved knew what you were up to? Doesn’t bother you, fine — go ahead. But if that question makes you bristle, you might want to think twice before you keep swiping right.

 

 

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