While the emails of apparently millions of subscribers from Canadian-owned website Ashley Madison have hit the internet, which has led to Josh Duggar of 19 Kids and Counting fame coming under fire once again, what many may fail to realize is that there are far more people involved in this scandal. A number of Canadian and British government email addresses have been used to access Ashley Madison, a site known for allowing subscribers to have an affair and therefore cheat on their spouses.
Hackers who threatened to dump Ashley Madison user data and expose the cheaters made good on their threat August 19, exposing Canadian, British, and American users alike. Some 9.7 gigabytes of data were uploaded to the dark web, a section of the Internet not easily understood by general Internet users. “The dark web runs on the exact same infrastructure as the normal web – it is simply explored in a different way, along different protocols,” said John Proctor, vice-president of global cybersecurity at CGI.
Ashley Madison is a Canadian company based in Toronto, Canada, and has been cooperating with investigators from the RCMP, Ontario Provincial Police, the FBI, and the Toronto Police Service since the data breach occurred in July.
Some 170 email addresses associated with the Canadian Armed Forces were apparently used to access the site, and federally, there were also email addresses associated with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and various other Canadian government departments, including the Canadian parliament itself.
There were some 32 million user email addresses revealed in the information dump. The Telegraph reports that 1,716 email addresses from post-secondary institutions and a handful from other government agencies were also used, and United Kingdom MP Michelle Thomson, who is married, said someone gained access to her email address and used it without her knowledge, leading to her name being on the list of millions who were exposed.
More than 55,000 email addresses associated in 2013 with the Canadian capital city were also revealed. That statistic alone might dub Ottawa the most infidelity-friendly city, but the fact is, there are now millions, including government officials, scrambling to determine how their names are now associated with Ashley Madison. Toronto-based parent company Avid Life Media does not send out verification emails, which has led to some questions about why several accounts can be linked to a single email address, but meanwhile, there are Canadian, British, and American residents who are, at the very least, trying to come up with a logical explanation about why their names are now linked with a website designed to facilitate cheating on a spouse.
What is more interesting is that before the data breach occurred in July, Avid Life Media’s head, Noel Biderman, boasted that the website’s privacy innovations allowed it to “give (customers) the ‘perfect affair’ by using technology to deliver discretion.” That “perfect affair” appears to be shattered for those email addresses involved in the hackers’ data release, leaving millions of Canadian, British, and American, among others, owners of email addresses trying to figure out what happened and how to get their good reputations back.
[Photo courtesy of Press of Atlantic City]