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Adultery site Ashley Madison confirms leak of actual user data

Hit by a hack in July, the dating site says some of the stolen data has been published online but no credit card information has leaked, according to Reuters.

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Hackers have leaked some actual data from users of Ashley Madison. screenshot by Lance Whitney/CNET

Users of adultery site Ashley Madison beware: some of your personal information may be viewable online.

Website AshleyMadison.com, which touts itself as "the world's leading married dating service for discreet encounters," was the victim of a hack attack in July. The hackers threatened to publish stolen customer data, including real names, addresses, email addresses, internal documents and credit card transactions unless Ashley Madison and EstablishedMen.com, a site that matches up older men with young women, were taken offline. The hacking group, known as the Impact Team, reportedly hit the site over grievances that Ashley Madison charges its customer a fee to delete their data.

Avid Life Media, which owns both AshleyMadison.com and EstablishedMen.com, confirmed to Reuters on Wednesday that some legitimate customer data was stolen in the hack and has now been published online. The revelation by Avid Life Media follows rumors that a vast amount of data on Ashley Madison customers had been leaked online. But it's been difficult to verify the legitimacy of that data.

"There has been a substantial amount of postings since the initial posting, the vast majority of which have contained data unrelated to AshleyMadison.com but there has also been some data released that is legitimate," Avid Life spokesman Paul Keable said in an email to Reuters.

Avid Life Media did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Ashley Madison claims to have more than 38 million anonymous members. But it's not clear how many of those are active users. Still, if the actual data of even a small percentage of those members is now publicly available, it poses a black eye to a site that promises secrecy. A hack of a similar dating site, Adult FriendFinder, was revealed in May, exposing the personal details of millions members.

The hackers published a large amount of Ashley Madison user data online late Tuesday, but the information is accessible only by using the Tor browser, which lets people browse the Internet anonymously.

Keable told Reuters no credit card information was stored on its servers. However, several security experts claim that Ashley Madison customers have found their names in the published data, along with partial credit card details, Reuters added.