Hackers have leaked the entire online database of Israeli LGBT+ dating app Atraf, exposing highly sensitive information including the sexuality and HIV status of thousands of users.
The Black Shadow hacking group stole a file containing information on around a million listings with full details on the users, according to France 24, many of whom are closeted. They released the database on Tuesday (2 November) after their $1 million ransom was not met within 48 hours.
The leak has prompted panic among the app’s mostly male users, who fear they could be outed or blackmailed with the information.
One anonymous man told Ynet: “It’s awful to break into my personal space.” He added: “I hide my sexual orientation… I’m really helpless.”
Some users fear the leak could be “life-threatening,” according to The Aguda – The Association for LGBTQ Equality in Israel, which noted that calls to their helpline have doubled.
“They picked the right target to sow panic,” said board member Hilda Peer, speaking to France 24.
The Israel Internet Association and The Agudah issued a joint statement advising all Atraf users to change their usernames and passwords and to contact the police in any incident of ransom demands or blackmail.
“The natural human tendency may be to succumb to the demands of the attackers, but past experience shows that there is no guarantee that the personal content will be removed. Moreover, it is an opening that may lead to additional ransom demands,” they said, as reported by The Jerusalem Post.
The Authority for the Defence of Privacy announced on Wednesday (3 November) that it is investigating the Atraf website for faulty cyber defences that may have led to the hack.
Atraf is owned by the Israeli internet host CyberServe which provides servers and data storage for a number of companies.
Dozens of other Cyberserve clients were hit by the Black Shadow hack, including Israel’s Machon Mor medical institute which lost the medical records of 290,000 patients.
Yoram Hacohen, head of the Israel Internet Association, said: “This is one of the most serious attacks on privacy that Israel has ever seen. Israeli citizens are experiencing cyber terrorism.”
Those affected by the leak can contact The Agudah’s LGBT+ hotline between 5pm and 7pm and 7.30pm and 10.30 pm, Sunday to Thursday. Just call 2982 or WhatsApp at 058-620-5591.