Infidelity on Ashley Madison: India stands out

MUMBAI: The huge data on Ashley Madison website released by hackers has astonished the world. Now the map of the data for the location and gender of Ashley Madison users published by Spanish digital agency named Tecnilógica has revealed something more astonishing about Indians.

The mapped data on the infidelity website with more than 39 million users spreading over 53 countries shows that 85% of Ashley Madison users are men, which is marked in red dots. However, the dots on India on the world map are predominantly yellow, which means Indian men using the site are less than 85%. In other words, Indian female users are averaged higher than females in the rest of the world.

However, the higher number of Indian women using the site may not prove higher infidelity rates in the country as users may not have signed up with a serious intention. Even then, with the Indian cultural background, the data is astounding.

The Leak

The Ashley Madison website, famous for its slogan “Life is short. Have an affair,” started in 2001. It has more than 124 million visits per month and is ranked no. 18 among adult sites. The site, which is spread in more than 53 countries, has been accused of promoting adultery and disregarding family values, and there were pressures to close the site.

On July 15, 2015, a group of hackers named “The Impact Team” hacked the site and stole personal information of its users. They demanded that the site and its sister sites be immediately shut down, failing which the stolen information would be released online to public.

This news of hacking users’ information — including real names, addresses, search history and credit card details of millions of people — created panic worldwide. Site users, some of whom were of high profile, were feared of being publicly exposed and shamed.

In response to the hack, the site termed the attack “cyber-terrorism” and said that it had secured its website by closing “the unauthorized access points”.

However, on August 18, the hackers released a torrent file containing nearly 10 GB of website data. Upon verifications, experts confirmed the validity of the information. On August 20, The Impact Team released another 20 GB data. In response, Ashley Madison stated that it was investigating the matter.

The blackmail begins

As a huge amount of sensitive data of users is public now, information ranging from email IDs, financial details, physical descriptions and detailed sexual preferences of millions of people are being accessed by extortionists to blackmail Ashley Madison users.

One of the readers of CoinDesk, a Bitcoin news outlet, has shared a message telling that he was blackmailed by some “Team GrayFlay”, who demanded bitcoins from him for not exposing his Ashley Madison profile details.

Here’s the part of the message they received:

Unfortunately your data was leaked in the recent hacking of Ashley Madison and I now have your information. If you would like to prevent me from finding and sharing this information with your significant other send exactly 2.00000054 bitcoins (approx. value $450 USD) to the following address…

Meanwhile, Stuff.co.nz has reported another such blackmail incident. In this, an Auckland man has received a message from Team GrayFlay. “Consider how expensive a divorce lawyer is,” the extortionists have written. “If you are no longer in a committed relationship then think about how this will affect your social standing amongst family and friends.”

This may get uglier as Ashley Madison users include people with sensitive jobs. According to the Business Insider, the dump also contains around 15,000 US military and governmental email addresses.

The leak has risked the professional and personal lives of millions, and now it is beyond the control of Ashley Madison also.

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