The turmoil surrounding the website whose slogan is “Life is short. Have an affair” is worsening in the wake of a security breach that exposed information about people who have allegedly been using the service, Ashley Madison, to cheat on their spouses.
The hacking incident, which first came to light July 15, exposed the names, email addresses, home addresses, credit card information and sexual fantasies of Ashley Madison’s users. The hackers reportedly threatened to release the information if Ashley Madison did not shut down, and then followed through on that threat last week.
In the latest development, CNET reports that Ashley Madison owner Avid Life Media, based in Toronto, has offered a bounty of $500,000 Canadian, or $377,000 U.S., for information leading to the arrest of the hackers.
“Hackers calling themselves the Impact Team first revealed in July they had stolen information from the site, including data on more than 30 million Ashley Madison patrons, who sign up with the goal of having extramarital affairs,” CNET reports.
The report adds: “While it’s all happened on the Internet, there have been very real effects. In a press conference on Monday, Toronto police said they suspect two suicides were related to the leak. They also believe the hack led to a few attempts of extortion from the outed users.”
Meanwhile, Reuters reports that the first of what may be many lawsuits have been filed against Ashley Madison over the data breach. The website and its parent company “have been sued in federal court in California by a man who claims that the companies failed to adequately protect clients’ personal and financial information from theft, saying he suffered emotional distress,” Reuters reports. “The lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles by a man identified as John Doe, seeks class-action status.”
Among the users whose information was exposed are U.S. government officials, civil servants in the U.K. and high-level executives at European and North America corporations, the report notes. Ashley Madison and Avid Life Media Inc. are accused in the suit of negligence and invasion of privacy.
Avid Life Media has already been hit with a class-action suit in Canada, filed last week, seeking about $760 million in damages, Reuters adds.