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The Sad Sight of a Company Downloading Its Own Stolen Data

The feeling of watching Ashley Madison torrent its own data dump.
August 21, 2015, 1:50pm

Yesterday, hackers dumped another 20GB of internal data from the extramarital dating site Ashley Madison, and its parent company Avid Life Media (ALM) on the dark web.

Naturally journalists, criminals and perhaps just curious members of the public are downloading the cache en masse, and judging by a screenshot provided to Motherboard, ALM are also attempting to access it.

Included in a list of the torrent peers is "mail.avidlifemedia.com", presumably referring to a user connecting from ALM's own network.

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ALM has yet to publicly confirm that the leaked data is genuine, even though all available evidence points towards that. In an earlier interview with security journalist Brian Krebs, ALM's founding chief technology officer Raja Bhatia said the company had been riffling through various different dumps that had found their way online. "In total we've looked at over 100GB of data that's been put out there," he reportedly said.

A screenshot of people downloading the Ashley Madison data. Image: Tim Fitzhenry

In a statement released after customer data was published earlier in the week, Avid Life Media said, "We are actively monitoring and investigating this situation to determine the validity of any information posted online and will continue to devote significant resources to this effort."

At this point, with ALM essentially losing control of its own information, and being forced to torrent its own databases and internal documents, all the company can do is attempt to mitigate the damage caused. And yet there is something stark about seeing the company in a queue of users trying to access the leak.

Avid Life Media did not immediately respond to a request for comment.