Toronto-based Ashley Madison parent company sued over massive hack
It's being called one of the biggest online data breaches in the world. The infidelity website Ashley Madison was hacked in July, but in the last week, email addresses for some 30 million users of the site were made public online by the hackers. Toronto police say the fallout from the hack is enormous and is being felt worldwide.
"We have two unconfirmed reports of suicides that are associated because of the leak of Ashley Madison's profiles," said Toronto police superintendent Bryce Evans, talking about just one of the impacts created by the ripple effect of the hack by a group known as Impact Team.
In addition, he says there have been extortion threats and online scams.
Slick ads from Ashley Madison encourage and facilitate extramarital affairs. One slogan it uses is "Life is short. Have an affair."
The website promises complete confidentiality, but the hack has exposed the personal data of 33 million users and even some credit card information.
The scope of the of the revelations are breathtaking, reaching into the Canadian parliament and the department of national defense in Ottawa. In the U.S., the list includes two assistant U.S. Attorneys, an information technology administrator in the White House, a justice department investigator and hundreds of other federal workers with sensitive jobs.
Evans says the FBI and Homeland Security have joined the investigation along with national and regional police forces in Canada. He had a warning for the hackers.
"We will continue to work with our law enforcement partners around the world in order to stop or minimize the social and economic impacts of your actions and to prevent and stop the criminals from capitalizing on your restless and illegal activity," said Evans.
Police have also reached out to the high-tech and online community for help in tracking down the Impact Team. Meanwhile, the parent company of Ashley Madison, Toronto-based Avid Life Media, has offered a $500,000 reward for information leading to a conviction. It has also been quick to say that personal information about a client does not prove adultery.
But two Toronto law firms have already launched a more than half-billion dollar class action lawsuit against Avid Life Media, saying the privacy of thousands of Canadians was breached.
UPDATE: It was announced Friday that Ashley Madison founder and CEO Noel Biderman is leaving Avid Life Media Inc. as part of a "mutual agreement'' with the company. An announcement from the company says its existing senior management team will lead the operations until a replacement is found.