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British government staff and council workers used their official email accounts to sign up to affairs website Ashley Madison, it has been claimed.
Dozens of email addresses linked to top Westminster departments and some of the nation’s biggest local authorities have now been published online, suggesting public servants may have tried to arrange affairs whilst they were supposed to be working.
The names and email addresses have been extracted from a huge data cache released by a hacking squad called The Impact Team, before being published on easily accessible web forums.
Ashley Madison generally requires an email account to be verified before it can be used to arrange affairs, suggesting wannabe cheaters would use a real address.
However, the list includes several emails which are obviously fake, including one entitled “tblair@” – which is quite clearly not genuine.
Up to one million Brits are thought to have signed up to Ashley Madison, which claimed a total global membership of 37 million people.
The effect of being named and shamed is likely to be so devastating that experts have warned cheaters could be driven to suicide if their secret shame is exposed.
The full 10gb data cache is available on the dark web or by downloading a large ‘torrent file’, but parts of it are now being selectively published on a well-known web forum.
The hackers accessed the intimate details of up to 37 million love rats, including nude images, credit card information and even details of their secret sexual fantasies.
Ajay K. Sood, General Manager for Canada of cyber security firm FireEye Inc. said: “These guys want as much notoriety as possible. This isn’t cyber terrorism. It’s cyber vigilantism.”
Police and intelligence sources have said it appeared to be an inside job.
The dump of data on Tuesday was massive, according to Microsoft security expert Troy Hunt, who said more than 1 million unique email addresses were attached to payment records.
Avid Life Media, the owners of Ashley Madison’s, released a statement last night which said: “Last month we were made aware of an attack to our systems.
“We immediately launched a full investigation utilising independent forensic experts and other security professionals to assist with determining the origin, nature, and scope of this attack.
“Our investigation is still ongoing and we are simultaneously cooperating fully with law enforcement investigations.
“This event is not an act of hacktivism, it is an act of criminality. 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.
“The criminal, or criminals, involved in this act have appointed themselves as the moral judge, juror, and executioner, seeing fit to impose a personal notion of virtue on all of society.
“We will not sit idly by and allow these thieves to force their personal ideology on citizens around the world.”