Ashley Madison CEO resigns over hacking scandal

Ashley Madison CEO resigns over hacking scandal
© Ashley Madison

Noel Biderman, the CEO of Ashley Madison parent company Avid Life Media, is stepping down in the wake of the massive hack of the infidelity website.

"This change is in the best interest of the company and allows us to continue to provide support to our members and dedicated employees," the company said in a statement. "We are actively adjusting to the attack on our business and members' privacy by criminals."

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Last week, hackers dumped a database of stolen personal information for up to 37 million users of the extramarital dating site. Lawsuits against the company have begun proliferating, alleging that the company failed to adequately protect its users’ data.

The hack also revealed internal emails between Biderman and other company officials that indicated Ashley Madison had hacked a competitor’s networks.

In November 2012, Raja Bhatia, Avid Life Media's founding chief technology officer, emailed Biderman to say he had found a security hole in the online magazine nerve.com’s dating site.

“They did a poor job of auditing their site,” Bharia wrote, according to the leaked emails.
“Have access to all their user records including emails, encrypted password, if they purchased or not, who they talked to, what their search preferences are, last login, fraud risk profile, who they blocked or are blocked from, photo uploads, etc.”

Biderman suggested that Bhatia take advantage.  

“Holy moly..I would take the emails...” he allegedly wrote.

Bhatia demurred, but sent Biderman emails demonstrating how it could be done.

According to Avid Life Media, the company will continue to operate its dating sites, including Ashley Madison. It indicated that it will be led by its current senior management team until it selects a new CEO.

Some analysts doubt the company will be able to survive in the wake the attack. At least five class-action suits in the U.S. and Canada have already been filed, one of which seeks $578 million in damages.

Experts believe the legal case against the company is strong.