Emails of public figures linked to data breach on adultery site
A NUMBER of email addresses for public figures, including civil servants and some third level academics, are among those leaked by internet hackers who allege the accounts were registered on the world’s biggest infidelity website.
Computer hackers gained access to the entire database of Ashley Madison, a dating website for people who want to have affairs, and posted the names of all 37 million users, including details of up to 115,000 Irish people.
A massive data dump was posted on Tuesday to the so-called ‘dark web’.
While many of the millions of emails appearing on the list released by the hackers are likely to be users of the website, it is also possible that email addresses for individuals were registered with the website maliciously or as a prank.
Some 300 email addresses linked to three of the county’s most prestigious third-level institutions also feature on the leaked data list.
It alleges that some 224 signed up to the paid site using a Trinity College email address with ‘@tcd.ie’ accounts for both students and staff listed.
Outside of the capital, 51 Cork Institute of Technology students who use the ‘@mycit.ie’ email accounts are also registered along with eight staff members with a ‘@cit.ie’ login.
At least 18 University College Cork e-mail addresses are also alleged to have been registered.
The hackers object to the site’s business practices, specifically a “paid delete” option that allows people to pay to remove all their information but, they say, does not actually do that.
Despite the seriousness of the security breach, a spokesperson for the Data Commissioner last night said that they would not be commenting on the situation and said that the office has not received queries from concerned individuals.
Figures for the number of Irish users vary, with 40,000 registered with Ashley Madison in 2011, according to the website itself.
More recently a “global infidelity map” posted by the website on social media suggested that 2.5pc of the Irish population – or 115,000 people – use the online dating service.
Ireland was tenth in a list of countries that was topped by Canada (6.7pc) and had the highest number of users per capita in Europe.
A number of online commentators last night claimed that the number of Irish people affected by the security breach could rise as high 125,000.
One user – who claims to have searched through the list – said that 123,117 were connected with Irish accounts.
They claimed that 110,011 were male while females numbered just 13,106, with an average age in the mid-30s.
In the UK a female MP is among hundreds of public servants whose personal details have been published online as alleged users of the website.
Avid Life Media (ALM), which runs Ashley Madison has branded those who claim to have posted the private information as criminals.