Raja Bhatia, the ex-chief technology officer at Ashley Madison, has not been pleased with some of the claims made about him by the media in the wake of the hacked data being revealed. Emails between him and the then-CEO of Ashley Madison, Noel Biderman, suggested Bhatia had done some hacking of his own, which he now disputes.
In fact, he’s gone so far as to have his lawyer send a threatening email to the person who first published these claims and the emails, Brian Krebs, of KrebsonSecurity. In the letter, Bhatia, through his lawyer, demands that the claims be removed and that Krebs himself post a retraction and correction, stating that Bhatia did not hack any sites, but merely notified Biderman about security holes he had found in Nerve.com.
Bhatia also wants it made clear he wasn’t working for Ashley Madison or Avid Life at the time of his alleged (non) hacking.
As you might expect from a journalist asked to take down a story he wrote with allegations he believes to be true: Krebs has refused. Krebs instead has doubled down by citing the offending passage from his original article in a follow-up.
“They did a very lousy job building their platform. I got their entire user base,” Bhatia said, purportedly also linking to a downloadable file which contained some of the database as an example. “Also, I can turn any non paying user into a paying user, vice versa, compose messages between users, check unread stats, etc.”
Krebs was the first person to report this aspect of the story, which went on to be picked up and reported on by numerous other journalists from a range of publications, many of whom confirmed the quoted portions of the transcript themselves from the original email release.
Another aspect that Bhatia is apparently not happy with, is that claims were made that Ashley Madison was looking into purchasing Nerve.com and that that was the reason for its interest in checking on Nerve.com’s security. While that would still not be favourable news for ALM if true, it’s perhaps preferable to it a pure competitive hack of that site’s security, which is implied if ALM did not in fact target Nerve.com for acquisition.
Wired has some choice quotes which back up the acquisition claims however, such as one from Biderman, when someone asked him if he wanted to buy Nerve:
“They reached out to us a couple of times – not sure we are the best buyer for Nerve given what we focus on these days,” he said.