Ashley Madison emails reveal CEO allowed hacking of competitor

25 Aug 201513 Shares

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There’s a sense of irony coming from the latest revelations about the leaked Ashley Madison emails, with messages appearing to show the company’s CEO Noel Biderman allowed his CTO to access insecure files on their competitor, nerve.com.

The past week has all but ruined Avid Life Media’s (ALM) reputation, with gigabytes of customer data leaking online following the breach earlier this month by Impact Squad, but now the heat is increasing on its CEO Noel Biderman.

According to Krebs On Security, the latest insight into the emails that have also been leaked by the hackers appears to show collusion, or at least acceptance, of the company’s founding CTO, Raja Bhatia, hacking into the infidelity site’s largest competitor.

On 30 November 2012, an email sent by Bhatia to Biderman shows that the former was well aware of nerve.com’s poor security and proposed exploiting it for their own gain.

“They did a very lousy job building their platform. I got their entire user base,” Bhatia said in his email to Biderman. “Also, I can turn any non-paying user into a paying user, vice versa, compose messages between users, check unread stats, etc.”

This might explain why a potential buy-out of nerve.com by ALM suddenly going cold.

Hope for film revealed in email chain

The email chain, which dates back to January 2012, had shown that prior to Bhatia’s discovery of nerve.com’s lack of online security, ALM had been in discussion with the owners of the website about potentially becoming part owners of the site.

ALM appears to have offered the nerve.com owners something in the region of US$20m for this deal to go through, as well as investment in a partner site called flirt.com, but then pulled out of the deal following Bhatia’s discovery.

The company is ramping up its efforts to track down those who orchestrated the major breach, offering CA$500,000 for information that could lead to their arrest.

This is despite it looking like more revelations are about to appear through a ‘selected dox’ archive that has already shown rather embarrassing emails from Biderman, including his plans to create a film based on the website, to be called In Bed With Ashley Madison.

Laptop image via Shutterstock

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Colm Gorey is a journalist with Siliconrepublic.com

editorial@siliconrepublic.com