UPDATE 3-Hacker's Ashley Madison data dump threatens marriages, reputations

Wed Aug 19, 2015 7:36pm EDT
 
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(Adds details on military, Avid Media company, background)

By Josephine Mason and Alastair Sharp

TORONTO Aug 19 (Reuters) - Love lives and reputations may be at risk after the release of customer data from infidelity website Ashley Madison, an unprecedented breach of privacy likely to rattle users' attitudes towards the Internet.

Hackers dumped a big cache of data containing millions of email addresses for U.S. government officials, UK civil servants and high-level executives at European and North America corporations late on Tuesday, the latest cyber attack to raise concerns about Internet security and data protection.

The hacker attack has been a big blow to Toronto-based assignation website firm Avid Life Media, which owns Ashley Madison and has indefinitely postponed the adultery site's IPO plans. But many professions stand to benefit from the unfolding saga, from lawyers to therapists to cyber security firms.

Prominent divorce lawyer Raoul Felder said the release is the best thing to happen to his profession since the seventh Commandment forbade adultery in the Bible.

"I've never had anything like this before," he said.

The data dump began to make good on the hackers' threat last month to leak nude photos, sexual fantasies, real names and credit card information for as many as 37 million customers worldwide of Ashley Madison, which uses the slogan: "Life is short. Have an affair."

The public embarrassment and emotional toll is likely to be enormous on unsuspecting people whose extra-marital affairs may have been exposed on the web or even whose emails were used without their knowledge to sign up for the site.   Continued...