Ashley Madison Is Now Offering $500,000 to Hackers to Catch the Hackers behind the Breach

online-dating-site-ashley-madison-hackedFollowing weeks of controversy and backlash, Ashley Madison is now offering a $500,000 reward for ‘white hat’ hackers. The bounty is in exchange for any information leading to the arrest(s) and prosecution of the individual or members of ‘Impact Team’ – the hacking group taking credit for the breach and leaking of private information belonging to more than 30 million registered users.

In a press conference hosted by the Toronto police this morning, Police Staff Superintendent Bryce Evans spoke about “Project Unicorn,” the code name given to the investigation looking into the attack. Toronto is the city where Ashley Madison’s parent company, Avid Life Media is situated.

While communicating the news of the reward, Evans also appealed for help from “white hat” hackers and the general public to bring the perpetrators to justice, reports KrebsOnSecurity.

The Ashley Madison breach and subsequent leak of data have resulted in a plenty of headlines around the world while being widely covered by media outlets everywhere. However, things took a dark turn recently.

“As of this morning, we have two unconfirmed reports of suicides that are associated [with] the leak of AshleyMadison customer profiles,” Evans said.

The ripple effect of the impact team’s actions has and will continue to have a long-term social and economic impacts, and they have already sparked spin-offs of crimes and further victimization.

Suicides, Scams, Extortion attempts and the Fallout

Evans insisted that the police are currently investigating reports of the deaths. In a report on Friday, the San Antonio Express-News published the news of a city worker whose information was leaked due to the breach had committed suicide late Thursday. The report did confirm at the time of publishing however that it is unclear if the worker’s suicide was related to the much-publicized recent leak.

Renowned security journalist and analyst Brian Krebs predicted and feared such incidents, speaking to the Guardian last week.

There’s a very real chance that people are going to overreact. I wouldn’t be surprised if we saw people taking their lives because of this, and obviously piling on with ridicule and trying to out people is not gonna (sic) help the situation.

KrebsOnSecurity recently featured a story about an extortion scheme targeting an AshleyMadison member. The threat was to let the victim’s spouse know of the victim’s Ashley Madison profile unless the user paid the extortioner a Bitcoin ( the equivalent of just over USD $250).

The Toronto Police has also tweeted pictures of the multiple slides related to the Ashley Madison hack, including the email sent to an Ashley Madison victim by an extortioner.

Extortion letter
The extortion email.

Speaking about scams set up by opportunists, Evans asked the public to keep their guard up.

“Criminals have already engaged in online scams by claiming to provide access to the leaked website,” Evans said.

The public needs to be aware that by clicking on these links, you are exposing your computer to adware and spyware and viruses. Also, there are those offering to erase customer profiles from the list. Nobody is going to be able to erase that information.

The Toronto Police Department has  shared its contact details via Twitter and is actively encouraging anyone with any information about the Impact Team hacker(s), the extortionists and scammers to contact them via their phone lines and Twitter. The Police are also asking victims not to give into any ransom demands.

Images from Ashley Madison, Shutterstock, and Toronto Police Twitter.

Samburaj is the contributing editor at Hacked and keeps tabs on science, technology and cyber security.