More deaths linked to Ashley Madison hack as scammers move in

Avid Life Media offers $500,000 for hackers' heads

The Ashley Madison leak may have driven another two people to suicide, police in Toronto, Canada, fear.

And scammers are harassing anyone named in the databases, which were swiped from the website by hackers and published online.

Word of the two Ashley Madison-linked deaths in Canada came after a government worker in San Antonio, Texas, reportedly killed himself last week. His name had appeared among 33 million others in the leaked databases.

Ashley Madison, whose slogan is "Life is short, have an affair," is, basically, Tinder-for-cheaters, and the leak has revealed literally gigabytes of compromising personal information.

Toronto police's acting staff superintendent Bryce Evans told the press on Monday morning that the breach of Ashley Madison's security came to light on July 12 when an employee of the website logged in to their work PC, and was greeted with a message from the hackers at Impact Team.

The memo revealed that the business's systems had been compromised, and also played AC/DC's classic Thunderstruck.

The hackers demanded that the site be taken down, along with another website run by Avid Life Media (ALM) called Established Men, which looks to link young women with sugar daddies. When Canada-based ALM declined to do so, Impact Team put the databases of users online, and followed up later with a second dump containing ALM's internal emails.

Evans warned that miscreants were already moving in on panicked users of the websites, offering – for a fee of course – to remove the offending details from the database in exchange for one Bitcoin. This is, of course, impossible because the data is already out there, but Evans said this hadn't stopped the scammers trying it on.

The Canadian police have also discovered cases of scammers contacting people on the database and threatening to expose them to family and work colleagues if a payment wasn't sent. Anyone threatened in this way is urged to get in contact with the police via a special website or telephone number set up by Toronto police.

In response to the hack, ALM has announced a reward of $500,000 Canadian (US$378,000) for information that leads to the capture and prosecution of those responsible. Toronto police said the attack was "sophisticated" and that ALM is working closely with all relevant law enforcement bodies to track down the perpetrators.

Hopefully the firm will still be in a position to offer that amount of money when the time comes. ALM is facing lawsuits in the UK and Canada, and the prospect of paying out hundreds of millions of dollars if it loses the cases.

Evans also appealed to the white-hat hacker community to get involved in tracking down the Impact Team and those who helped them. An inside job hasn't been ruled out, he said, but all avenues of inquiry are being considered. ®

PS: A thought on suicide rates and the millions of people exposed by the Ashley Madison hack...

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