A US start-up has been blasted for exploiting the Ashley Madison hack to launch a marketing campaign to promote its data checking services.
Trustify, which launched in March and has ten staff, created an online tool that lets people check if their email address was included in the stolen user information from the site.
The tool was one of many that were created after hackers released data on more than 30 million registered users of the website, one of the largest and most sensitive data breaches on record.
Trustify’s approach rubbed some people the wrong way. The tool allowed people to enter an email address, and the site returned an answer on whether the address was part of the breach.
Designed to be used by individuals, the service was soon being adopted by people looking to see if any famous people or just people they knew were included.
Trustify did not send a verification email to the address that was being checked before it returned information, but crucially it then sent marketing emails to those addresses that were entered.
One was posted on Twitter which read: “We [have] confirmed that your details were exposed. Talk with our experienced investigative consultants to learn how you can find out what incriminating information is available and could ruin your life.”
The company’s founder and chief executive Danny Boice defended the move, despite taking the tool offline while the firm works on improvements, including email verification.
He said: “We are a company that’s doing marketing. We are very clear about our intentions. We are a for-profit business using this for lead generation.”
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