GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. -- A website that prides itself on impropriety has been hit by hackers who are threatening to release the personal information of millions of its members. AshleyMadison.com has been creating controversy since its inception, encouraging married men and women to have extramarital affairs.
A warning was posted on the website on Monday saying it has become victim to the hack and that investigators are looking for who's responsible.
The hacking group calls themselves the Impact Team and are threatening to release names, email addresses and credit card information for the site's 37 million members.
Joe Martino at Joe Martino Counseling Network said that most often an affair is caused by someone seeking power. So the idea of being exposed might actually add more thrills.
"There are a number of people that are very much afraid that their spouse or partner is going to find out," said Martino. "But there is also a number of people that are very excited because, 'They aren't going to catch me. I'm not going to get caught.' It's upping the excitement, because they are closer to being caught, but they aren't actually caught. And in that tension, a lot of people find enjoyment. It typically goes bad for them at some point."
Avid Life Media, which runs Ashley Madison's cyber security, posted a statement on the website vowing to hold the hackers responsible.
Aaron VanderWall from Imperial Computer Solutions said that often a security breech is initiated by someone who at one time worked for the company.
"Everything about how the system works there," said VanderWall. "So, if you are going to go into the system or work your way around it, you know their process, their security, so it's going to make it easier for you."
Credit card companies and banks have become very forgiving when it comes to fraudulent transactions when someone is hacked, Vanderwall said.
This breach may be more nerve-racking because the release of a member's name could be devastating.
"The person that puts their information in there wants it to be more secure and not necessarily more of a billing standpoint but just a 'Hey I'm on here, I signed up for it site.' They don't want anyone to know," said VanderWall.
Having the world at your fingertips is a form of instant gratification, and Martino said, it can lead to more impulsive behavior. That behavior may not only have an affect on your bank account but also your relationship.
"You go on the web page and, all of a sudden, here is this woman or this man and you just click and it's done," said Martino. "You can go back and cook dinner or mow the grass. You know or go to work, and nobody is the wiser."
The company is offering to delete member's information from the website for free, a service they typically charge for.