Ashley Madison hack claims another victim: Its CEO

Noel Biderman, CEO of Avid Life Media who own the massively-hacked adultery website Ashley Madison, has left the company.

The announcement was made in a brief statement published by the site.

Ashley Madison statement

Toronto, ON, August 28 – 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. Until the appointment of a new CEO, the company will be led by the existing senior management team.

This change is in the best interest of the company and allows us to continue to provide support to our members and dedicated employees. We are steadfast in our commitment to our customer base.

We are actively adjusting to the attack on our business and members’ privacy by criminals. We will continue to provide access to our unique platforms for our worldwide members.

We are actively cooperating with international law enforcement in an effort to bring those responsible for the theft of proprietary member and business information to justice.

The news of Biderman’s departure comes within days of the company offering a Canadian $500,000 reward for information leading to the prosecution of whoever hacked into the website and leaked its user database.

Noel BidermanWhether it was the hack, the handling of the hack, or revelations about Avid Life Media’s CEO’s private life that made Biderman’s position untenable is unclear.

What is clear to me is that the likes of the Daily Mail and BuzzFeed have been guilty of a gross invasion of privacy, by republishing the content of private emails sent by Biderman that the hackers released onto the net.

I really cannot see how their publication in the media can be in considered in the public interest. I wonder how the Daily Mail and BuzzFeed‘s editors would feel if their private, personal emails were raked through with as much vigour, and if their most salacious tit-bits shared with the world.

Sign up to our free newsletter.
Security news, advice, and tips.

Whether you like the idea of the Ashley Madison website or not, its staff are human beings. And they have families and loved ones. Some of them are victims of a criminal act, just like those people who trusted the site with their personal information.

Biderman wasn’t a politician elected to public office on a platform of family values who had pulled the wool over the eyes of voters. He was the CEO of a dating site with the motto “Life is short, have an affair” for goodness sake…

Further reading:

Graham Cluley is an award-winning keynote speaker who has given presentations around the world about cybersecurity, hackers, and online privacy. A veteran of the computer security industry since the early 1990s, he wrote the first ever version of Dr Solomon's Anti-Virus Toolkit for Windows, makes regular media appearances, and is the co-host of the popular "Smashing Security" podcast. Follow him on Twitter, Mastodon, Threads, Bluesky, or drop him an email.

9 comments on “Ashley Madison hack claims another victim: Its CEO”

  1. hahaha

    Screw you, buddy, you suck for standing up for ALM. Love to see your butthurt though, loser!

    1. Graham CluleyGraham Cluley · in reply to hahaha

      The irony is that you used a anonymous name and burner email account ( to leave your comment.

      Clearly you believe in privacy for some, but not for others.

    2. coyote · in reply to hahaha

      His point has ABSOLUTELY NOTHING TO DO WITH organisation in question and has EVERYTHING TO DO with the media.

      But besides that, relying on an ad hominem (as you do) is the clear sign of what you called Graham – a loser (though to be honest your post shows a limited imagination and vocabulary). Not only a loser but a loser that has nothing intelligible to say. He wasn't standing up for the organisation at all – he was making a point about the lack of ethics that the media (as a general rule) has when it comes to the PRIVACY (which has a direct relation to security and funnily enough his website is about security) of others. It is ungrateful, arrogant and indeed hypocritical (just like your message is, seeing as what Graham made public) of them to be this way.

      Not that this will change them but he is entitled to an opinion (which you also seem to think only you have the right to – more hypocrisy); the fact you don't think privacy of others is important as long as your privacy is maintained is certainly an opinion you are entitled to but that doesn't mean it is right. When your privacy is invaded – and if it never happens consider yourself exceptionally lucky – I imagine the perpetrators will be using your logic against you. And you would deserve it.

  2. J

    Wasn't a fan of the clickbait headline. (Initially I thought the CEO committed suicide like other victims of the site).

    1. Graham CluleyGraham Cluley · in reply to J

      I can put my hand on my heart (trust me.. I'm a computer security guy) and say that I never for one minute thought anyone would imagine I was talking about the CEO’s suicide.

      For what it's worth, I'm not aware that any suicides have been confirmed to be as a result of the Ashley Madison hack.

      1. coyote · in reply to Graham Cluley

        Also should consider that suicide isn't one of those things that has a single trigger (and I obviously mean the deciding factor). Unless you're considering incidents in cults (or otherwise group suicides), a coup de grâce, or the romanticism of – for example – jumping off certain bridges [e.g. the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, California], then it is something that accumulates over time. So while someone might commit suicide after something like this, it isn't that incident alone. That doesn't make it any easier for the victim's loved ones, and it doesn't make it any easier for the victim themselves, of course, but what pushes them over the edge – perhaps literally – could be any number of things; there isn't a sole cause. In a way this is comforting because it means the breach itself wasn't the only variable (which means that things weren't perfect until then but now that it has happened they feel they have nothing) but there is always the end result that matters (which means they were suffering to the point of ending their life).

    2. coyote · in reply to J

      I can see what you mean but only to an extent: he used a very generic title. Yes, that can lead to ambiguity but he didn't intend it to be that way. Whether people realise it or not, intent means a great deal: if you try to say something to make someone feel better and they actually feel worse, would you like it if they accused you of trying to hurt/anger/upset them? Or what if someone angers you someway when you know they really have your best interests at heart (even if they have to clarify for some reason).

      To be fair though, I thought the same thing as you but perhaps because suicide is a very touchy subject for me combined with any ambiguity. I suppose it doesn't help that humans tend to expect the negative – maybe understandably because there is so much negativity in the world.

  3. Paul Hedderly

    "Biderman wasn't a politician elected to public office on a platform of family values who had pulled the wool over the eyes of voters. He was the CEO of a dating site with the motto "Life is short, have an affair" for goodness sake…"

    The problem I have with that attitude is that he was CEO of company that encourages people to destroy trust, to renege on their promises and to show ultimate disrepect to their spouses/partners/children/family.

    So he surely cannot expect to be shown any respect? That would be hypocritical wouldn't it?

  4. Mike

    Part of this story has to do with personal accountability. Don't do anything in private that you know will be embarrassing if someone finds out. Knowing that anything can be hacked, exploited, maliciously exposed, etc., exercise a little more self control. Criminals, like viruses will adapt and evolve to overcome any security barriers (or vaccines) that we put in the way. The first line of defense is to limit your exposure to any possible infection. In cyberspace, the first line of defense is limit your exposure. Criminals and others have no scruples about attacking anyone – nude selfies, compromising comments, videos, blogs, tweets, posts and other media – will always be vulnerable to their nefarious conduct. However, even though we know this, we continue to play into their game. Yes, we have a right to freedom of expression. Remember, though, that along with the freedoms we also have responsibilities to ourselves and others we care about.

What do you think? Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.