Police probing the massive data breach at infidelity website Ashley Madison are calling for ‘white hat hackers' to help them track down the cyber-criminals involved – with the incentive of a near £250,000 (A$550,000) reward up for grabs.
The appeal to the security and hacker community came yesterday from the ‘Project Unicorn' police taskforce – which includes the FBI, US Department of Homeland Security and Canadian police – hunting hacker(s) calling themselves the ‘Impact Team', who last week carried out their threat to leak the personal details of around 33 million Ashley Madison subscribers.
However security guru John McAfee has claimed there is no team, just a female ex-employee who had total access and issues with management.
“It would be foolish for us to think we could do this on our own,” said staff superintendent Bryce Evans of the Toronto Police, where Ashley Madison owner Avid Life Media is based.
Evans said the police recognise that hackers “have certain techniques to assist us”.
Detective John Minard from the Canadian Mounted Police's tech-crime unit confirmed: “We're looking at the white hat hackers, the guys who aren't involved in what happened. The Impact Team are operating on the dark web, an area of the internet that we don't necessarily police on a daily basis.”
To support them, ALM has offered a bounty of £240,000 ($A528,000) for help in catching the intruders, saying "the Project Unicorn investigation is progressing, but more help is needed from the outside".
"ALM is offering a C$500,000 reward payment to anyone who provides information to the taskforce that leads to the identification, arrest and conviction of the person or persons responsible for the theft of proprietary data.”
Detailing the human cost of the data breach, Bryce Evans said “the Impact Team's actions have already sparked spin-off crimes and further victimisation. As of this morning, we have two unconfirmed reports of suicides that are associated with the leak of Ashley Madison customer profiles.”