Yesterday it was revealed that a number of state government email addresses popped up in the Ashley Madison data, suggesting that government employees were among the clients who used the recently-hacked website to cheat on their spouses. (Due allowance must be made for the possibility that some of these email addresses are fakes, since Ashley Madison did nothing to verify them.)
How about clients from the federal government? There must be a lot of them, since it was already known Washington, D.C. was one of the top areas for customers.
The Associated Press reports that hundreds of federal employees have tumbled out of the client base so far, and they hail from every corner of the federal bureaucracy, including the White House, congressional staff, and federal agencies, including the Department of Homeland Security.
The accounts include “at least two assistant U.S. attorneys; an information technology administrator in the Executive Office of the President; a division chief, an investigator and a trial attorney in the Justice Department; a government hacker at the Homeland Security Department and another DHS employee who indicated he worked on a U.S. counterterrorism response team.”
Employees from the departments of “State, Defense, Justice, Energy, Treasury, Transportation and Homeland Security” were included, along with others from “House or Senate computer networks.” There were hundreds of clients for the adultery network in the Defense Department, including some who worked at the Pentagon.
The AP notes that relatively few of these individuals actually used their official federal email addresses; their identities were established using the payment transaction data included in the data dump by the Impact Team hackers.
That also means the identity of these clients has been more firmly established than those revealed by most early sweeps of the AM data, which relied solely on the email address. The AP actually tracked one of them down, a Justice Department investigator who confessed to his membership on the site. The report does not include his name, as the AP observes none of these Ashley Madison customers stands accused of any crime. However, it is noted that Defense Secretary Ashton Carter has announced an investigation of military members who allegedly used the website, because “conduct is very important,” and actually committing adultery can be a criminal offense under the Uniform Code of Military Justice.
In fact, it is noted that these federal workers had a penchant for using blind email addresses with names like “sexlessmarriage,” “soontobesingle,” or “latinlovers.”
Some of the Ashley Madison clients from the Justice Department had the presence of mind to use prepaid credit cards to conceal their identities… but then were foolish enough to actually log in to Ashley Madison from their office computers. Another triumph for the super-expensive government Internet security systems that brought you the Office of Personnel Management hack!
The Federal Times puts the total of unverified federal email addresses at 6,788 for the us.army.mil domain, 1,665 for navy.mil, 809 for usmc.mil, 206 at the more generic mail.mil, over 875 .gov addresses from various federal agencies, and 44 from the White House.
As several other reports have noted, some Ashley Madison users employed mobile devices to access the site, leaving their account data tagged with GPS coordinates of their exact locations at the time. This is exceptionally troubling in the case of customers who worked in sensitive positions, including military members.
The Federal Times quotes military veteran and former Office of Management and Budget official Jim Tozzi asking, “What injury is done to the government?” by its employees using Ashley Madison, after making due allowance for the higher legal standards applied to military personnel.
That’s a foolish question, and Tozzi himself goes on to answer his own question in part, by mentioning the cyber-security vulnerabilities created by using federal systems to access such a website. How about the fact that the overburdened tax serfs in the American electorate deserve better than having their overpaid federal “employees” using overpriced, under-secured government computers to set up adulterous affairs with paid subscriptions on Ashley Madison?
And how can anyone claim to be unaware of the immense blackmail threat created by this user database?
The Obama Administration let Chinese hackers walk away with a vast trove of data on government employees and contractors earlier this year, including the entire database of people who applied for security clearances. he last thing we need is for bureaucrats, officials, and military members in sensitive positions to be setting themselves up for manipulation by foreign agents by diddling around on adultery websites.
Would the monster government that claims to be smarter and wiser than the entire private sector please stop treating security like an afterthought, and personal integrity like a joke?