No matter what your demographic or romantic preference is, there's a dating site designed specifically for you. Some are geared toward finding lonely people their soul mates. Others were founded for casual courtship. For the Tinder set, serial daters can browse a catalog of faces with the swipe of a thumb.
Adult FriendFinder is even more casual than that: The site has helped singles arrange their one-night stands since 1996. Subscribers rarely expect dinner and a movie. Instead, they skip straight to the boudoir. Or futon. Or motel waterbed. Or whatever.
Subscribers were in for a rude awakening this week when rumors circulated that Adult FriendFinder's database had been hacked. An alleged hacker named "Revolver" posted photos to the web, claiming that this was evidence of a successful digital break-in. A second hacker named "Peace" claimed similar activity shortly thereafter. Peace allegedly stole the information from 73 million accounts, which would be leaked to the public.
The reports are hard to verify, however. While Adult FriendFinder is vetting the hackers' boasts, Peace and Revolver have been quarreling on Twitter over who deserves credit for the hack. Peace is currently threatening to make public the information of 73 million users. Experts were stymied as to whether there is any truth to this threat, but investigators are taking the claims seriously.
At face value, the hack could be embarrassing for millions of people. Users turn to the website for discreet connections, which is why Adult FriendFinder bills itself as "the world’s largest sex & swinger community." Like the Ashley Madison data breach in 2015, exposure of this magnitude could wreak untold damage on relationships and reputations, not just only for ordinary people, but for public personalities as well. Adult FriendFinder appeals to a range of marital statuses, sexual orientations and bedroom rituals, whose exposure could prove deeply embarrassing.
But those threats are cosmetic compared to the real danger: A successful data heist could furnish hackers with names, birthdays, home IP addresses, VPN keys, and other essential ingredients for identity theft.
This event comes on the heels of a similar attack in 2015 when a hacker named ROR[RG] supposedly nabbed information from 4 million accounts and tried to vend them off in the Deep Web.
The origin of the hack was an alleged "backdoor," a vulnerability in the programming that allowed Revolver or Peace – or both, or neither – to access the site's database.
This most recent breach recalls the Ashley Madison fallout, which caused widespread controversy in the United States, where sites geared toward swinging and hookups are alternately considered dens of iniquity and bastions of personal freedom.