Ashley Madison hackers expose thousands of government workers
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.
See inside Ashley Madison:
"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.
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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.
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."