Ashley Madison London IPO unlikely after hackers threaten to expose 37m adulterers

Hackers are threatening to expose nude photos and personal details on Ashley Madison's users.

Ashley Madison's dream of a public listing on a financial market this year is over, according to bankers cited by CNBC.

The cheating platform had hoped to raise $200 million (£128 million) on the London Stock Exchange but its future hangs in the balance today as hackers threaten to expose the 37 million people using the website to find someone to have an affair with.

"Of course they're going to have to put any IPO plans on ice. It will be at least a few months before any banks would consider touching it," said a Canadian investment banker. "I don't think this kills the company, unless all the data eventually gets leaked."

Another banker added: " "The doomsday scenario for Ashley Madison is if the hackers take all the names and addresses, correlates them to real people and prints addresses and phone numbers. That will kill it."

The Canadian website, which has 1.2 million UK users, was breached on Sunday evening by a hacking group known as The Impact Team, which claims to be unhappy with the platform's Full Delete feature, claiming that it doesn't remove all information about the user.

The hackers have demanded that Ashley Madison is taken offline or it will publish more information.

Pressure is now mounting on Ashley Madison and the company may not survivie the attack.

Dr Chenxi Wang, VP of cloud security and strategy at enterprise cloud security firm CipherCloud, said: "This hack may just kill Ashley Madison. The hackers are demanding the company to shut down or face public release of the very personal details of all of its 37 million customers.

"This puts AM between a rock and a hard place if it continues to operate. It's unthinkable for any business, especially one that runs on discretion and trust, to betray its customers' confidentiality.

"Trust is essential for e-commerce to work. But already, we're seeing multiple areas where the company's credibility for trust has been broken. It claims to "invest in the latest privacy and security technologies" yet the breach uncovered extensive information -- names, credit card numbers, nude photos, etc."

Since being attacked, Avid Life Media, the parent group behind Ashley Madison, has launched a PR campaign in order to mitigate the number of damaging press articles. It has also announced it is launching a data breach investigation, likely to include forensic experts and lawyers.

The company could face litigation charges from customers who may have seen their data protection rights breached.

"The deeply personal nature of this hack hits home. As extramarital affairs come to light, the number of victims will multiply to include affected families," added Wang. "The longer the company continues to operate, the more the damage done."

Tags business issueslondon stock exchangeCNBCCipherCloudAshley Madison

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