Hacked information from Ashley Madison was used to blackmail many users. The exact amount extorted from the victims of Ashley Madison data breach is not yet known.
Almost all tech savvy people with a habit of following news and current affairs now know Ashley Madison. Speaking of current affairs, Ashley Madison is supposed to be the go-to place for those in committed relationship and looking for an affair or a fling or whatever name you want to call it by.
Part of Avid Life Media, Ashley Madison is an online dating platform for those who are already in a committed relationship. A hacker group, calling themselves Impact Team had hacked the platform in July and stolen all sensitive information including user data. The data stolen by these hackers allegedly included personal information of the platform users including their address, credit card information, their sexual fantasies and other intimate details. Even internal and corporate communications were part of the stolen data.
Impact Team decided to make all the stolen data public and published over 25GB of data on internet, allowing public access. Blackmailers decided to make use of this opportunity to benefit from private, damaging information that was freely available on the internet. As expected, many Ashley Madison received threatening emails with ransom demands from blackmailers. Through these emails, the blackmailers threatened to share the information collected from Ashley Madison’s compromised database with the victim’s families, employers, co-workers etc., unless a ransom of 1.05, BTC was transferred to a specific wallet address within a stipulated time.
Some people came forward and reported the threats to authorities, while many others did not. It has made it impossible to track the exact number of emails sent by blackmailers to Ashley Madison’s users. However, a network security company by the name Cloudmark Inc. decided to analyze bitcoin transaction data available on the blockchain to find the number of people who might have paid ransom. They examined the transaction data available on the days when ransom mails were going around and found and shortlisted at least 67 such transactions of exactly 1.05 BTC each. The total worth of these transactions alone is worth about $15800. This study was conducted for a period of 4 days, and it does not factor in those who might have paid the ransom before or after these 4 days.