"They did a very lousy job building their platform," former Ashley Madison chief technology officer Raja Bhatia allegedly wrote to CEO Noel Biderman in 2012. "I got their entire user base." Ironically—considering Ashley Madison is now dealing with its own stolen data being leaked by hackers—Bhatia was referring to a competitor site he allegedly hacked back in 2012, Krebs on Security reports. According to Biderman's leaked emails, Bhatia figured out how to download the user database of Nerve.com (which was starting its own dating site) and manipulate it in ways including changing non-paying users to paying users, sending messages from one user to another, and more.
Krebs on Security reports that, per the leaked emails, Bhatia's hack came months after Nerve approached Avid Life Media, Ashley Madison's parent company, about a partnership. In fact, Bhatia offered $20 million to buy Nerve and another site, but Avid Life Media decided not to go through with the deal. Wired reports Bhatia was no longer working for Ashley Madison when he discovered Nerve's security problems, but additional leaked emails show he was also aware of similar security issues within Ashley Madison. Last week's release of stolen Ashley Madison data has already resulted in reports of online blackmailing and possibly two suicides, and more leaks may be on their way.