An extramarital dating site known as Ashley Madison has been hacked.
The firm is currently offering customers the chance to delete their account from the site free of charge, after it was announced that information on its database had been stolen by hackers.
The ability to pay to delete your information is thought to have been the main reason behind the hack in the first place. The attackers, called The Impact Team, said the site did not actually delete all of the information about a user, even after they had paid the fee.
However Ashley Madison said this accusation was false.
In a statement the firm said: “Contrary to current media reports, and based on accusations posted online by a cyber criminal, the “paid-delete” option offered by AshleyMadison.com does in fact remove all information related to a member’s profile and communications activity.
“The process involves a hard-delete of a requesting user’s profile, including the removal of posted pictures and all messages sent to other system users’ email boxes. This option was developed due to specific member requests for just such a service, and designed based on their feedback.”
Ashley Madison described the hack as an act of “cyber terrorism” and has been attempting to keep the data the hackers obtained off the web.
The firm said: “Using the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), our team has now successfully removed the posts related to this incident as well as all Personally Identifiable Information (PII) about our users published online.”
Security engineering manager at cybersecurity firm Rapid7, Tod Beardsley, believes the hack is likely to be very damaging once more data is made public; many users will not want to admit that they have suffered a breach.
He said: “Dating sites also host millions of intensely private scraps of user data. “Users of these services may routinely share risqué photos, checklists of sexual preferences, and patterns of romantic activity that they consider deeply personal. Because of this, any breach involving a dating site comes with a built-in ‘ickiness’ factor.
“Dating site users are likely to feel more violated after a breach than those caught up in a retail or government website breach, and they are less likely to reach out for help and advice on how to manage their identity information after a breach. For Ashley Madison users in particular, this tendency to suffer silently is all but guaranteed.”