How much have Ashley Madison customers been blackmailed for since their personal data was leaked last month? One cybersecurity firm thinks it might have the answer.
CoinDesk reported last month that customers Ashley Madison, a website that advertised itself as a platform for infidelity, were receiving blackmail threats by email that contained personal information derived from the cache of released information.
Nishimura said the team tracked bitcoin payments around the time the blackmail threats emerged using blockchain analysis. The process looked for payments with bitcoin amounts consistent with the demands they reviewed – for 1.05 BTC – and showed little transaction history prior to the period.
Nishimura wrote of the findings:
Nishimura – who tempered his post by saying that the results are not as yet conclusive – went on to say that those conducting the blackmail attempts stand to benefit given the free cost of exploitable information and the cheap resources – an email and a bitcoin address – required.
He also speculated that, in the future, blackmailers may seek to further obfuscate their efforts in order to avoid identification, which he suggested could be achieved by tracing the addresses used in the blackmail emails.
“Since this search would not have been possible without the consistent extortion amount, we suspect that future attempts at Bitcoin-based blackmail will randomize the amount they demand,” he wrote.