The chief executive of extramarital affairs website Ashley Madison has left the company after a third leak of emails and suggestions that he had affairs despite earlier denials.
“Effective today, Noel Biderman, in mutual agreement with the company, is stepping down as Chief Executive Officer of Avid Life Media Inc (ALM) and is no longer with the company,” said an unattributed statement on the Ashley Madison website. “Until the appointment of a new CEO, the company will be led by the existing senior management team.”
In July details of more than 37m accounts were stolen from the website, whose tagline is: “Life is short. Have an affair.” The company is now being sued for emotional distress and Canadian police are investigating links between the hack and two suicides.
The company said that Biderman’s resignation was “in the best interest of the company and allows us to continue to provide support to our members and dedicated employees” and that it remained “steadfast in our commitment to our customer base”.
That customer base’s personal information was spread far and wide across the internet earlier this month, with even those who had paid $20 (£15) to delete their accounts being exposed, with police tying multiple blackmail attempts and at least two suicides to the leak.
“We are actively adjusting to the attack on our business and members’ privacy by criminals,” the company wrote, saying that it would remain in business. Biderman has been notable by his silence over the course of the scandal, with police and security researcher Brian Krebs communicating much of the available information.
Krebs has posted new information on the hack, including a possible lead: a Twitter user (or, as Krebs speculates, users) called Thadeus Zu posted a link to the hack before anyone else and appears to have had special knowledge of the data breach before anyone else did.
The third and latest data dump, posted at the site that first released the user database, appears to be a download of emails from Biderman’s personal Gmail account. The second torrent – released by an entity calling itself the Impact Team – contained emails that seemed to be from Biderman’s work account and its release had already done damage to his personal reputation: the executive told the New York Daily News in 2014 that he had never cheated on his wife, but the hacked documents suggested otherwise.
• In the US and Canada, the National Suicide Prevention Hotline is 1-800-273-8255. In the UK, the Samaritans can be contacted on 08457 90 90 90. In Australia, the crisis support service Lifeline is on 13 11 14. Hotlines in other countries can be found here.
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