Ashley Madison hackers expose thousands of government workers

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Here Are Some Secrets Hidden in the Ashley Madison Data Dump


Hackers have exposed the private lives of government workers and other high profile people by posting nearly 10 gigabytes of information online about users of Ashley Madison, the dating site that helps arrange extramarital affairs.

The hackers who posted the data on Tuesday night stole account details and log-in information from about 37 million AshleyMadison.com members along with account data from its sister sites Cougar Life and Established Men, which arrange hookups with older women and men. That breach committed by a group called the Impact Team was first noticed on clandestine "dark Web" sites by cybersecurity researcher Brian Krebs, who on his tech blog Krebs on Security confirmed that the online posting of that data was genuine.

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Ashley Madison hackers expose thousands of government workers
LONDON, ENGLAND - AUGUST 19: A detail of the Ashley Madison website on August 19, 2015 in London, England. Hackers who stole customer information from the cheating site AshleyMadison.com dumped 9.7 gigabytes of data to the dark web on Tuesday fulfilling a threat to release sensitive information including account details, log-ins and credit card details, if Avid Life Media, the owner of the website didn't take Ashley Madison.com offline permanently. (Photo by Carl Court/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - AUGUST 19: A detail of the Ashley Madison website on August 19, 2015 in London, England. Hackers who stole customer information from the cheating site AshleyMadison.com dumped 9.7 gigabytes of data to the dark web on Tuesday fulfilling a threat to release sensitive information including account details, log-ins and credit card details, if Avid Life Media, the owner of the website didn't take Ashley Madison.com offline permanently. (Photo by Carl Court/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - AUGUST 19: In this photo illustration, a man visits the Ashley Madison website on August 19, 2015 in London, England. Hackers who stole customer information from the cheating site AshleyMadison.com dumped 9.7 gigabytes of data to the dark web on Tuesday fulfilling a threat to release sensitive information including account details, log-ins and credit card details, if Avid Life Media, the owner of the website didn't take Ashley Madison.com offline permanently. (Photo illustration by Carl Court/Getty Images)
Ashley Madison's International Affairs Director Christoph Kraemer speaks during a press conference in Seoul on April 14, 2015. The global adultery hook-up site Ashley Madison has come back to business in South Korea with vengeance after the country's Constitutional Court struck down a 65-year-old adultery law. AFP PHOTO / JUNG YEON-JE (Photo credit should read JUNG YEON-JE/AFP/Getty Images)
A man looks at a dating site on his computer in Washington,DC on February 10, 2014. AFP PHOTO/EVA HAMBACH (Photo credit should read EVA HAMBACH/AFP/Getty Images)
In this June 10, 2015 photo, Ashley Madison's Korean web site is shown on a computer screen in Seoul, South Korea. The Ashley Madison cheating website is making a lucrative, controversial splash in South Korea in the wake of a landmark ruling earlier this year that decriminalizes adultery. So great is the interest here that company executives expect it to be a top-three market globally for them in five years, after the United States and Canada. (AP Photo/Lee Jin-man)
This photo illustration taken on August 20, 2013 shows the homepage of the Ashley Madison dating website displayed on a laptop in Hong Kong. The founder of a dating service promoting adultery is setting his sights on China's cheating hearts after a controversial launch in Hong Kong. AFP PHOTO / Philippe Lopez (Photo credit should read PHILIPPE LOPEZ/AFP/Getty Images)
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"I'm sure there are millions of Ashley Madison users who wish it weren't so, but there is every indication this dump is the real deal," Krebs said.

The District of Columbia had more Ashley Madison users per capita than any other city as of May. An estimated 15,000 email addresses in the online server hosting the stolen data come from .gov or .mil government servers, according to analysis by Wired.

SEE ALSO: Josh Duggar reportedly had two Ashley Madison accounts

Email addresses from government offices including the State Department, Naval Intelligence, the Transportation Security Administration and the British government have been exposed in the online data files. Tech bloggers including Weasel Zippers and Andrew Auernheimer have even been directly exposing individual officials whose emails have been listed in the leak.


TrustedSec Chief Executive Dave Kennedy told the Associated Press in July the information dump included full names, passwords, street addresses, credit card information and "an extensive amount of internal data."

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The hackers who stole the site data wanted Ashley Madison and Established Men "offline permanently in all forms," threatening to post it online if they did not, adding "many rich and powerful people," would be exposed if their demands were not met. Their outrage against the site was not moral policing, but rather anger at its requirement that users pay to have their information deleted when they quit the dating service.

Making good on their threat, the hackers on Tuesday posted "time's up" as they announced the massive online leak.

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Avid Life Media, the parent company of the dating services condemned the leak on its blog, vowing to work with law enforcement to investigate the hack and to help users with any grievances.
"This event is not an act of hacktivism, it is an act of criminality," the blog post said. "It is an illegal action against the individual members of AshleyMadison.com, as well as any freethinking people who choose to engage in fully lawful online activities."

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