It was reported that blackmailers might have received thousands of dollars in bitcoin from people who did not want their identity to be revealed in the Ashley Madison hack case.
Research shows that millions of customers’ personal information was leaked after the website was hacked and blackmailers demanded payments in return for not making their identity public.
Toshiro Nishimura, software engineer cum research analyst at Cloudmark Inc., a network security firm, has been able to trace at least 67 Bitcoin transactions that matched with the profile of the transactions demanded by hackers for not publicizing information about the customers who were already in a committed relationship.
All the emails sent by the blackmailers consistently asked customers to pay an amount of 1.05 Bitcoin from the victims.
Nishimura, therefore, searched for the transactions involving exactly the demanded amount in order to determine if customers were making payments.
The total value of the transactions added up to 70.35 Bitcoin or $15,814.
Toshiro Nishimura tracked the payments by looking at the bitcoin addresses included in emails that were sent to the Ashley Madison hack victims.
If the bitcoin address is known, then the payments that are sent online to the address can be easily tracked.
Nishimura identified a number of bitcoin addresses that the hackers were making use for extracting money from the customers.
For the hackers of the website, this presents a great opportunity as the Ashley Madison website has as many as 32 million customers.
If the blackmailer sent emails to all of them and only 0.01 percent of the users paid up, they would end up amassing a ransom of $1.4 million.
However, Nishimura noticed that the rate of transactions that matched with the said profile was 5.3 per 100,000 in the three months before the dispatch of emails on August 22.
The rate of transactions increased to 8.9 during the extortion period suggesting that 40 percent of the 67 transactions totaling nearly $6,400 can be attributed to victims who paid the blackmail.