BUSINESS

Leaked Data Can't Be Linked To Specific Members, Ashley Madison Says

08/20/2015 04:08 EDT | Updated 08/20/2016 05:59 EDT
TORONTO — The Canadian adultery website Ashley Madison says that the electronic personal information exposed in a massive data breach can't be used to prove the infidelity of their clients.

The company confirmed Thursday it doesn't verify the email addresses used to sign up for the service, nor does it collect phone numbers or store full credit-card numbers.

An official with the company also says it doesn't check email addresses — precisely to ensure no account can be conclusively linked with a specific person.

People can speculate based on the data leaked earlier this week, the official says, but there's no smoking gun.

Scouring the data for familiar names or email addresses among the site's more than 35 million registered members has become a popular pastime for worried spouses and curious Internet users worldwide.

There are hundreds of email addresses in the data release that appear to be connected to federal, provincial and municipal workers across Canada, as well as to the RCMP and the military.

The Toronto cyber-security company Cycura is investigating the breach for Ashley Madison, along with the FBI, RCMP, OPP and Toronto Police Services.

The company's chief techology officer, Joel Eriksson, says the source code used by Avid Life Media, Ashley Madison's parent company, is being audited for "vulnerabilities and backdoors" though it doesn't appear that any software vulnerability was exploited in the breach.

Ontario government technology experts are also looking into the leak after dozens of provincial email addresses were linked to Ashley Madison account holders.

Provincial officials say if any civil servants used their work emails to set up their Ashley Madison account, that would be considered a misuse of government IT resources.

Attorney General Madeleine Meilleur's office says "information and technology officials are looking into whether any misuse has occurred."

Lawmakers abroad have denied signing up for the site after email addresses linked to them appeared on the list.

Scottish lawmaker Michelle Thomson said an obsolete email address had been "harvested by hackers" and used to register an account with the site. A similar explanation was offered by Talab Abu Arar, a Bedouin Arab lawmaker in Israel whose parliamentary email address was found amid the dump.

-with files from The Associated Press

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