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Properly stored passwords are combined with a set of extra characters, called a salt, and then hashed over and over again, many thousands of times (the salt is unique for each user and prevents any two users with the same password getting the same hash).
An attacker who makes off with a database full of hashes can’t decrypt them, instead they have to crack them one by one with brute force and guesswork.
Another unanswered question: was ALM storing credit card security codes – also known as CVVs, CVV2, CID, or CSC – along with account information? Payment card regulations known as PCI-DSS specifically forbid the storage of a card’s security code or any “track data” contained in the magnetic strip on the back of a credit card.
The attack on Ashley Madison is only the latest example of why it’s imperative that we all choose strong, unique passwords – one site, one password.
Nor do we know precisely what details that data included.
They say they’ll keep leaking information on a daily basis until ALM shuts down both Ashley Madison and Established Men.Ashley Madison users, you are “cheating dirtbags” in the judgmental eyes of whoever attacked the adulterers’ dating site, and, with no sympathy forthcoming from the culprits, your personal details are in danger of being published, if they haven’t already.The attackers claim that the personal, intimate data they’ve breached includes all customer records: secret sexual fantasies, nude photos, conversations, credit card transactions, real names and addresses, plus the dating site company’s employee documents and emails.Sleek websites — with names like Ace-My Homework and Essay Shark — have sprung up that allow people in developing countries to bid on and complete American homework assignments.Although such businesses have existed for more than a decade, experts say demand has grown in recent years as the sites have become more sophisticated, with customer service hotlines and money-back guarantees. Millions of essays ordered annually in a vast, worldwide industry that provides enough income for some writers to make it a full-time job.In another statement, ALM claimed there was nothing it could have done better to prevent the attack: “no company’s online assets are safe from cyber-vandalism,” despite having the “latest privacy and security technologies.” Impact Team agreed, apologizing to ALM’s security head: Many questions remain unanswered, including how ALM stored users’ passwords: were they properly salted and hashed, for example?Hashes are the best way to handle passwords because you can create a hash from a password, but you can’t recreate a password from a hash.The Ashley Madison breach comes fast on the heels of a data breach in May of Adult Friend Finder – a similar site promising “discreet” hookups.In the Adult Friend Finder breach about 3.9 million people had their private data, including personal emails, sexual orientation and whether they were looking to cheat on their partners, exposed on the Dark Web.Finally, a friend offered to help her break into “academic writing,” a lucrative industry in Kenya that involves doing school assignments online for college students in the United States, Britain and Australia. Mbugua felt conflicted.“This is cheating,” she said. Less attention has been paid to the tricks some well-off students use to skate by once they are enrolled.Cheating in college is nothing new, but the internet now makes it possible on a global, industrial scale.