Have you ever heard about Ashley Madison? Even if you aren’t into online dating (or short-time affairs in particular), this site gained a naughty infamy in the past few months. Ashley Madison is a Canada-based dating site that promotes “private affairs” between already married people. In other words, it facilitates adultery. Because we live in a frisky world, Ashley Madison gathered an astonishingly large community under its banner, counting more than 33 million users. But its infamy lead to its downfall, as a group of hackers, called the Impact Team, threatened the site, demanding its shutdown. Because their protestation was ignored, they hacked into Ashley Madison data bank, stealing the personal details of their users.
Ashley Got Violated
The situation is direr than you might think. Even though the media regularly reports on “hacker assaults” against several companies, this isn’t anything like a common DDOS attack. You see, for members of a dating site that’s openly known to facilitate adultery, anonymity is more than vital. People trusted Ashley Madison to keep their secrets hidden, because an identity leak would cause irreparable damage to a person’s reputation. But the hackers don’t just submit everyone’s details. They shared their loot in a big file, and the overly long mess of information encouraged most people from actually making sense of it. But some of them were persistent enough to accurately research a member’s background, relationships, job background and so on, just to maliciously blackmail them. And this is where the story turned really grim.
I’ll Make You an Offer You Can’t Refuse
After carefully sniffing around unlucky Ashley Madison members, uncovering their true name, job location, family members and most importantly, their financial status, shadowy individuals sent an offer to their prey they simply cannot say no to. In the letter, they threatened the person to reveal all his or her dirty secrets, unless they pay a hefty amount of money in Bitcoin. And not just the victim’s spouse will be notified, but also their children, their neighbors, friends, and employers. Becoming the center of such foul gossip has ruined the lives of countless people, resulting in domestic feuds, divorces, ruined careers and even suicide.
Life is Short. Have a VPN
Receiving such brutal ransom letter isn’t something you can just laugh off. Victims were usually charged for $2,000 in Bitcoins (the “helpful” extortionist even included a guide on how to set up a Bitcoin account), which is no small amount. Unfortunately, online daters (non-adulterers too) are exposed to scammers and hackers. In case you want to avoid this sorry fate, make sure to share as few actual details about yourself as possible. Always use a nickname on dating sites, and create a separate email address just for this purpose. Never link your Facebook profile, or use the same images. Most of them use geo-location to pinpoint your current city, but you can fool it by deploying a VPN. Even better, VPN services encrypt your connection, making it harder to identify your online activity or track it back to the source.
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