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In July , hackers leaked more than 25 gigabytes of data from the site — including names and search histories, which cooled the heels of its user base. View author archive email the author Get author RSS feed. Ashley Madison is back — and claims surprising user numbers. Trending Now in Business.

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Upper East Side restaurant Nello confused me for a hooker. News Corp HarperCollins Marketwatch realtor. Post was not sent - check your email addresses! Perhaps insurance would have picked up some of the breach costs. But Ashley Madison wasn't your average website. Ashley Madison served as a marketplace for people looking to have discreet extramarital affairs and casual relationships. While you shouldn't immediately judge users for having accounts on Ashley Madison as you don't know their circumstances -- were they drunk and browsing?

Single and after a casual fling?

On the site with their partner's blessing for whatever reason? For Ashley Madison users, free credit monitoring wasn't much of a fix. And the fallout continues even though folks' Ashley Madison usage was discovered by bosses, families and partners weeks ago.

More married women are cheating — here’s a glimpse into their ‘addictive’ secrets.

Here's one tale about the ongoing Ashley Madison fallout. For one anonymous user, who I'll call Tom in order to protect his identity, the story may have faded from the headlines but it's far from over for him.

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Tom reached out to ZDNet after receiving an email from an impact-team. Titled "Action required regarding recent security breach," the email said:. The email then went on to include records of Tom's Ashley Madison subscription, dates, and money spent. If Tom complied and bowed to the blackmail, his account information would apparently be removed and would not be available on a "publicly searchable website" the attackers allegedly are going to launch in the coming weeks.

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Was the ex-Ashley Madison user tempted to pay up? When asked, Tom said the issue wasn't black and white, commenting:. Tom has not paid up, and it remains to be seen what the consequences of not capitulating to this blackmail will be.

I'm the woman you met on Ashley Madison: How the rush of infidelity led to affairs online

Tom started using Ashley Madison in , and although he doesn't remember how he stumbled upon the website, he suspects it was a matter of random surfing. After marrying his spouse in his late thirties, the couple tried to conceive and have children -- with no success. Following fertility medical intervention, Tom's wife discovered she had a number of medical conditions which required a complete hysterectomy.

Further medical complications, a move to a new city for work and an early menopause severely diminished the wife's sex drive. The couple was under intense stress. While "every once in a while she would reciprocate when I attempted to be intimate," according to Tom, he felt that sex only occurred when his wife realized he was "in the mood" and was "getting frustrated because it had been months since the last time. However, Tom often felt reluctance on her part and did not feel his wife really wanted to be with him intimately.

I am a man who had sex with a woman I met on Ashley Madison : AMA

While the former AM member says he truly loves his wife, he is also a very sexual person -- and the stress of a nearly sexless marriage over several years made him edgy. Arguments erupted over the smallest things, long work commutes added to the pressure and eventually, Tom wondered whether the marriage was going to last at all.

Around the time these doubts surfaced, Tom started looking outside of his relationship to reconnect physically with someone. Subscribing to Ashley Madison, Tom spent a year wading through fake profiles to find a long-term connection in which he could have a casual -- but safe -- sexual relationship.

According to Tom, he was successful in finding matches. As a result, he says he became calmer at home, the sexual frustration evaporated, and his wife was no longer feeling pressured for intimacy. With a new, relaxed air in the home, Tom and his wife were able to reconnect on an emotional level and they sought therapist assistance to save their relationship.

Nothing changed on the intimacy front, but the marriage had improved on the emotional level and there was once again laughter in the house. When the data breach hit the news, Tom admitted he was "very nervous" due to an encounter with someone through Ashley Madison who wanted it to go beyond a physical connection and know more about Tom's personal life. He quickly severed the connection but says she became "bitter," and there was the risk that she was going to find out who he was and potentially reveal their relationship.

Now Impact Team has leaked customer data all over the web and search engines are available to scour through the data, Tom says he is worried about his data being online -- but is also angry about the leak and blackmail attempt.

My husband has Alzheimer's and I cheated on him ID

Tom canceled his credit card the moment he found out the data breach was real and is now deleting his AM account. However, he is now under "a lot more stress" and his old, edgy pressures have returned with full force as he lives under the shadow of his spouse potentially finding out about his infidelity. As big data, the IoT, and social media spread their wings, they bring new challenges to information security and user privacy. In the aftermath of the data leak, some considered the hack the epitome of Karma. However, while Tom was caught in the breach, he does not view things that way, telling me:.

No matter the reason, blackmail is an awful experience to go through, and Tom will be far from the last to receive this kind of letter due to the hack. It may be "Karma" in some eyes, but extortion based on the Ashley Madison hack is not only going to impact on former users now, but will likely continue for years to come since the data is online and available for all to see.

Spam and phishing campaigns rely on emotional responses to extort money from victims. Messages may appear to be from your bank account which warn you of unauthorized transactions, an email will beg you to help a terminally ill child or, in this case, you need to pay up or be exposed -- the key is inducing panic to make people act irrationally.

In Ashley Madison's wake, here's one man's story of sex, sorrow and extortion

With so much personal data now immortalized online, the users of AM are unlikely ever to be completely free of such attempts at extortion. And it's not just Impact Team which will capitalize on the disastrous data breach. I asked Tom, knowing what he does now, would he change his past choices?