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Ashley Madison ‘played with people’s lives’ before security breach exposed millions of users: former vice president

Millions of dirty secrets were revealed when user information on Ashley Madison, a dating site for married users seeking discreet relationships, was leaked in 2015, and a former high-ranking employee of the company told the filmmakers that the company had “played with people’s lives.” in a documentary series that has just been released.

Former company employees, journalists who covered the scandal, leaked customers and jilted spouses tell the story of the infamous data breach, how it changed the dating site and what the hackers finally cost users of the site in the Netflix chart “Ashley Madison: Sex, Lies & Scandal”, released last Wednesday.

Ashley Madison underwent a “complete overhaul” after the breach in order to “rebuild trust” and now has 85 million users, with about four million new users signing up each year, spokesperson Paul Keable told Fox News Digital.

Director Toby Paton wrote in a press release that, rather than “reprimanding” people who joined the site, the filmmakers sought to “explore why they were drawn to this site…what were they looking for?” What was going on in their relationships? ? And, most importantly: what was their partner’s side of the story. »

Launched by Darren Morgenstern in 2001, the service launched with the tagline “When monogamy becomes monotony”, which later morphed into a more salacious slogan: “Life is short.” Have an affair.”


Nearly 40 million people were exposed when Ashley Madison, a dating site aimed at adulterers, suffered a data breach in 2015. (Netflix)

Former employees said the company justified its business model with the founder’s view that cheating spouses were inevitable; their site was only responding to a need by making it easier. They found that 30 percent of people on dating sites were already married, according to the documentary.

“They were like, ‘Who’s your biggest competition?’ And I would say ‘The Bible,'” former Ashley Madison vice president of sales Evan Back told the filmmakers.


Ashley Madison lured users with salacious ads and daytime TV appearances from its CEO. The billboard pictured is in Johannesburg, South Africa. The site had 37 million users across 40 countries at the time of the data breach in 2015. Currently, the site has around 85 million users. (Photo by Foto24/Gallo Images)

The company experienced explosive growth, attracting attention with racy ads and appearances by CEO Noel Biderman that sparked righteous — and, apparently, user — outrage from viewers. Often, Biderman appeared alongside his wife, and both men insisted that the service was not capable of “creating” cheaters.

But even though the site promised anonymity and security, the company’s data security defenses weren’t enough to protect the 37 million users in 40 countries it amassed in 2015.

Former IT employees spoke about how lax the site’s security measures were, while employees who handled billing and customer service explained how they would brush away worried spouses by asking them for credit card charges. suspicious credit.

“It was like playing with people’s lives,” Back said in retrospect.


Ashley Madison CEO Noel Biderman, often alongside his wife, has repeatedly claimed that their site cannot create cheats and is only filling an existing need. (Mai Tsé/South China Morning Post via Getty Images)

That year, the company was hacked by a group called “The Impact Team,” which the documentary suggests may have been just one person, or even an employee of the site’s parent company, Avid Life Media. Unless the company shut down its operations within 30 days, the hacker demanded, it would publish its users’ data on the “dark web.”

Although the company hired a cybersecurity team, it did not respond to the hackers’ requests. Seven days later, the hacker group followed through on its threats, releasing data that included information from people who believed they had deleted their accounts entirely — a service the company charged money for, according to the documentary. A second data dump included users’ credit card details and even nude photos.

The company has offered $500,000 to anyone who can report the hacker – who has not yet been identified.


“They were like, ‘Who’s your biggest competition?’ And I would say ‘The Bible,'” former Ashley Madison vice president of sales Evan Back, pictured, says in the documentary series. (Netflix)

Journalists and curious onlookers began scouring the lists for familiar names — and soon, websites that allowed users to enter email addresses to determine whether they ever had an account were created.

Even CEO Biderman’s data was not secure and his private and work emails became publicly available. The former CEO did not appear for an interview, but he told the filmmakers in a written statement that he “remains a committed husband and father.”

But despite exhaustive attempts by law enforcement and cybersecurity experts hired by the company, the identity of the elusive Impact Team was never discerned, according to the docuseries.

“Now we look at (security) as a whole company approach,” Keable of Ashley Madison said Friday. “Everyone’s job is safety, everyone’s job is discretion.”

Protecting its users is a “Sisyphean task,” Keable said. “We must push the rock of security up the hill every day.”

“I think there’s a misunderstanding with the idea that (Ashley Madison was) wrong, given that we’ve seen since then that several companies have done similar types of events. It’s part of the maturation process of the online community world,” he said.

Among the celebrities named in the Ashley Madison case was Josh Duggar of “19 Kids and Counting,” who was later convicted of child pornography.

“I have been the biggest hypocrite of all time,” he said in a statement at the time. “While espousing my faith and family values, in recent years I secretly watched internet pornography and it became a secret addiction and I became unfaithful to my wife. I am so ashamed of the double life that I live and I am saddened by the hurt, pain and shame that my sin has caused to my wife and my family, and especially to Jesus and all those who profess faith in Him.

“Jersey Shore” star Nicole “Snooki” Polizzi vehemently denied reports that her husband was on the site.

“I’m lucky if he even knows how to use a computer but still cheats on me about Ashley Madison,” she said at the time. “This is so stupid, and we honestly think someone is trying to screw us over, because this isn’t the first story that Jionni has cheated on me.”


Sam and Nia Rader, a popular Christian vlogging couple in the 2010s, were also asked about how their marriage was affected when the former was listed in the breach.

“I’m not mad at Ashley Madison, and I’m certainly not mad at the hackers,” Sam told Tudum. “I was already on a horrible path when I was announced for Ashley Madison. Sure, it’s frustrating that they didn’t keep my data secure, but I just see it as the Lord exposing me and bringing me out of the darkness.

Sam and Nia Rader, popular Christian vloggers in the 2010s, were among the couples interviewed for the series. (Netflix)

Ashley Madison has seen an increase in its membership since the documentary was released, Keable said. “People who don’t know us and are struggling with their situation think, ‘Maybe this is my solution.'”

Ashley Madison didn’t work with Netflix on the documentary, but Keable pointed out that they were an integral part of Hulu’s miniseries “The Ashley Madison Affair.”

“(Netflix) did a great job putting a story together, but we weren’t interested in rehashing what is a very old nine-year-old story… without really any new information… let alone how far we’ve come since then. So and what happens beyond that,” Keable said. “Hulu wanted to tell the whole story: what happened in 2015, what happened afterward, and where (the company) is now.”

“Myself, my colleagues, we are quite proud of the fact that despite the beliefs of others, today we are strong and proud and responding to the needs of the people,” he said. “It’s a pretty cool story, but we can’t wait for the next chapter.”

Gn entert
News Source : www.foxnews.com

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