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Spouse-cheat breach: Hackers threaten to expose 30 million users of AshleyMadison.com

Spouse-cheat breach: Hackers threaten to expose 30 million users of AshleyMadison.com
AshleyMadison.com is available in 46 countries, including South Korea, which is expected to become one of the top markets for the hook-up site. (Lee Jin-man / AP Photo)

Hackers are threatening to expose information on over 30 million users of AshleyMadison.com, a website for cheating spouses famous for its tagline "Life is short. Have an Affair."

A group of hackers called The Impact Team reportedly has posted some data already and is demanding that parent company Avid Life Media shut down AshleyMadison and a sister site, EstablishedMen.com, according to Krebs On Security, a blog run by former Washington Post reporter Brian Krebs.

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The Toronto-based Avid Life Media said Monday it closed the breach in its computer system and was working with law enforcement. How the hackers got in, Avid Life didn't say.

In a manifesto obtained by Krebs, the hackers said: "Avid Life Media has been instructed to take Ashley Madison and Established Men offline permanently in all forms, or we will release all customer records, including profiles with all the customers' secret sexual fantasies and matching credit card transactions, real names and addresses, and employee documents and emails."

In a prepared statement, the company apologized, adding: "The current business world has proven to be one in which no company's online assets are safe from cyber-vandalism, with Avid Life Media being only the latest among many companies to have been attacked, despite investing in the latest privacy and security technologies."

Of course, a hack is especially damaging for AshleyMadison and EstablishedMen, a site that Avid Life Media says connects "ambitious and attractive young women with successful and generous benefactors to fulfill their lifestyle needs."

Privacy is paramount to the company's business strategy. AshleyMadison has been adding users so rapidly it was considering an initial public offering.

The hackers targeted the sites in response to a feature called "full delete" in which users can erase all personal information for a $19 fee. The Impact Team said the sites still kept purchase details with names.

The hack comes two months after another hook-up site, AdultFriendFinder, was reportedly hacked, exposing 3.5 million user accounts.

Follow @dhpierson for tech news.

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