They wanted an affair, but no one expected it to be this serious. Today, more than 100 Icelanders with a desire to cheat on their spouses may have a reason to shudder. They are about to discover that the internet can’t be trusted to keep a secret. According to Vísir, about one hundred Icelandic email addresses are among those revealed by hackers of the online cheating service Ashley Madison. Altogether, 128 of the website’s users claim to be in Iceland.
The information was posted on the internet yesterday, a month after the hackers, who call themselves The Impact Team, had threatened to make it public. The information leaked involves 37 million users. The website, owned by Avid Life Media (ALM), a Toronto-based firm, was started in 2001 and its target group is people interested in cheating on their spouse, as is evident in the website’s slogan: “Life is short. Have an affair.”
According to The New York Times, the information leaked includes “members’ names, user names, addresses, phone numbers and birth dates as well as details of credit card transactions. Member passwords are encrypted, but specific users could be easily targeted for decryption.” Moreover, the leak may include embarrassing information about the users’ sexual preferences.
The hackers were critical of the website’s policy of deleting the users’ information for a fee of 19 USD—a policy that turned out to be quite lucrative for the owners. Despite promises to delete the information, at least some of the data remained. The Impact Team released a statement, saying, “We have explained the fraud, deceit, and stupidity of A.L.M. and their members. Now everyone gets to see their data.”
Vísir has obtained the information and reports it will likely be available to the public in the next few days. Although users of the website were asked to provide their name and address, the website owners didn’t verify the accuracy of that information. On the other hand, the leaked information includes precise GPS coordinates, making it possible to see the exact location of those who logged onto the website.
Shouldn’t a lesson have been learned from the Vodafone scandal the year before last? At that point, the internet showed itself incapable of keeping a secret.