Now that the Ashley Madison hacked data has leaked online and several people have confirmed that they found their own last four-digit credit card numbers in the Ashley Madison information, as reported by the Inquisitr, others are coming forward, as well. One such woman is Michelle Thomson, who came forward to the Daily Mail to report that she found her own email address and name in the list of hacked data. However, Michelle says that the old email address published by the hackers was harvested.
Harvested emails can be gained by hackers in plenty of ways, one of which includes searching Google for the “@” sign that must accompany emails. That’s why some folks will publish their email address online with “at dot com” instead of the “@” sign to prevent such email harvesting.
“Email harvesting is the process of obtaining lists of email addresses using various methods for use in bulk email or other purposes usually grouped as spam.”
Thomson is married, and she’s also a member of the Scottish National Party parliament (SNP MP), the representative of the voters to a parliament. Michelle says the hackers must’ve gained her email address through harvesting means — and that she’s the victim of a smear campaign.
“Along with potentially millions of others, an out-of-use email address seems to have been harvested by hackers.”
Another option could be that folks signing up for Ashley Madison may have “harvested” the email addresses of other people when signing up. They likely would have access to verify the email addresses, however, unless they had access to that user’s harvested email inbox.
Others are admitting to the publication that they aren’t the victims of email harvesting, but that they did indeed sign up for Ashley Madison out of frustration or during rough patches in their marriage. Now the thought of them being exposed terrifies them. Government employees, along with those that work in the Vatican and in private industries, have been exposed by the hack. But since anyone could’ve signed up with an email account without even verifying the email was their own, email harvesting is a real issue.
“I look forward to finding out more about what has actually happened. However, having a personal email address linked to an account doesn’t mean that person is really a user of Ashley Madison.”
Meanwhile, other British government workers blame email harvesting or malicious means for their emails appearing on the list.
[Image via Ashley Madison]