Ashley Madison users whose personal details were leaked by hackers are being blackmailed for sums of bitcoin, according to reports. Hackers going by the name of Impact Team released a database with details of more than 37 million users of the extra-marital affairs website earlier this week, including tens of thousands linked to corporate and government email accounts.
Extortion attempts by opportunistic criminals were uncovered by New Zealand publication Auckland Now and cryptocurrency news website CoinDesk, the latter reporting that a US user of Ashley Madison received a blackmail email demanding two bitcoins ($466, £350). The blackmailer, going by the name of "Team GrayFlay", threatened to expose the Ashley Madison user by sending their partner account information that could include sexual preferences.
"Unfortunately your data was leaked in the recent hacking of Ashley Madison and I now have your information," the message stated. "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...
"If you are already divorced then I suggest you think about how this information may impact any ongoing court proceedings. If you are no longer in a committed relationship then think about how this will affect your social standing amongst family and friends."
The same pseudonym and language was used in an email sent to a New Zealand man, suggesting that the extortion attempt was sent to a blanket list of emails included in the database. Instructions on how to obtain the bitcoins by using an exchange or bitcoin ATM were reportedly included in the email.
Online search tools have already emerged for people to find out if their data has been compromised by the leak, while it is also possible to download the entire database through torrent sites. Despite this, blackmailers are counting on the fact that many spouses and significant others might not check to see if their partner has been implicated in the data leak.