Avid Life Media dating company Ashley Madison, which was the target of one of the most publicised data breaches of all time, has introduced a safety feature it believes will protect its customer's identities: a nifty little mask.

The added safety feature, which puts a digital Casanova-style mask over its customers' faces, has provoked derision in the online community, not least because the hacking of Ashley Madison affected more than 37 million users.

The hackers, who identified themselves as the Impact Team, first released snippets of the data back in July 2015, followed by 10GB of customer information and 20GB of internal data.

Immediately available on the web were millions of email addresses, partial credit card numbers and home addresses. Hackers were able to use social engineering and phishing schemes to jigsaw together information about the individuals and blackmail them.

Some accounts also contained candid photos of their users which were also released on the dark web.

The hacking dealt a body blow to Avid Life Media, the Canada-based company that owns Ashley Madison and other dating websites such as Established Man and Cougar Life.

Founder, CEO and advocate of the Ashley Madison lifestyle Noel Biderman was forced to step down from his post as result of the breach in the wake of the hacking scandal. The privacy issues involved with the encryption of the site also opened Avid Life Media up to lawsuits all around the world, many of which are ongoing.