20 Jun 2011

BeautifulPeople.com either suffers hack or fools media

The dating website BeautifulPeople.com was infected with a "Shrek virus" that compromised the site's application process for six weeks, according to a press release issued today by the website. Yet some say the site did not suffer a computer security breach, but undertook a PR ploy.

BeautifulPeople.com bills itself as an exclusive online community comprised only of beautiful people. Potential members submit a photo and then current members accept or reject applicants based on their appearance. The BeautifulPeople press release claims that 30,000 new members were wrongly admitted due to the virus and have since been kicked off the site. It also includes a hotline for newly-rejected members to call for help in dealing with the "hard news."

But the release also states the virus did not at all compromise member privacy and specifies that BeautifulPeople is only investigating the incident internally.

On the Sophos Naked Security blog, Graham Cluley said that this all adds up to a stunt, given that BeautifulPeople will benefit from media attention though it apparently has suffered no permanent damage or even much inconvenience from the purported hack. To support his assertion, Cluley cited a previous BeautifulPeople PR stunt that revolved around members being kicked out after gaining weight.