Scammers are targeting ashley madison breach victims in a new sextortion scheme.
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According to CNBC, the new scam was first discovered earlier this year after researchers at email security company Vade Secure found targeted emails that appeared to contain information from Ashely Madison breach victims.
As is typically the case in “sextortion” scams, the scammers are threatening to reveal compromising information unless users agree to hand over a sum of money. In this case, ransomers are reportedly demanding around $1,000 in bitcoin to keep quiet.
What makes the new ashley madison case particularly troubling, however, is that the extortioners appear to be incorporating real information from users’ accounts and activity on the dating platform. Adrien Gendre, chief product officer for Vade Secure, told CNBC the extortion emails appear to be “well-researched,” including user information such as signup date, username and interests listed in users’ dating profiles.
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The original ashley madison breach back in 2015 had an unusually profound psychological effect for a cybersecurity crisis due to the sensitive nature of the platform (coupled with society’s doggedly retrograde attitudes toward monogamy and and infidelity, just saying.) The breach, in which scammers calling themselves the “Impact Team” stole and later publicly released around 60 gigabytes of personal information from the website, was linked to at least two confirmed suicides and caused immeasurable damage to the personal and professional lives of millions of other users. Now, surviving victims of the breach may have to contend with yet another psychologically compromising scam.
Gendre has urged any targeted users not to give into any extortion threats. “For those who get the email, what they should do is never give in to the trick,” Gendre told CNBC. “Never pay, whatever the rate. First, because you are not even sure if they will spend the time to release the information. And then, because you may just become a victim again. It’s never worth it.”
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