Sometimes, diamonds aren’t forever.
Data from the adultery-promoting website Ashley Madison contained over 150,000 Utah-based memberships, according to a new forensics study released last week.
Information from over 38 million accounts was hacked from Ashley Madison and released last month. The breach included over 60 gigabytes of data containing credit card numbers, user details and personal emails, according to data security expert Brian Krebs in an interview with Business Insider.
Richard Hickman, lead examiner of Orem-based Decipher Forensics’, analyzed the Utah-based accounts and found nearly 6,100 accounts in Provo and over 42,000 in Salt Lake City. Based on analysis of the Ashley Madison data, CBS News ranked Salt Lake City as the 4th most unfaithful city in America. Over 20 of those accounts are linked to Utah government officials, or people who used government domains to create the account, according to the Salt Lake Tribune.
“It’s a really sad thing that our society has come to a point that this is OK,” Hickman said. “I think it just shows a trend in today’s society as we become more and more shameless.”
The Canada-based website was created in 2001 and now operates in 53 countries with over 40 million members. The website’s platform focuses mainly on married people looking to engage in adultery with other married people.
Provo has the fifth highest concentration of user accounts in the state of Utah, and several of the accounts were created with BYU domains, although Hickman said there is considerable doubt about the legitimacy of those accounts. The other cities in the analysis with high concentrations of members include Ogden, Sandy, Payson and Orem.
Accuracy issues apply to the rest of the data as well. Users are permitted to use whatever name, email and location desired to create an account. No verification process occurs and many of the services the website offers are free of charge. Ashley Madison has been involved in lawsuits in the past for contributing fake accounts to their user platform.
“The register shows 42,000 (accounts), but I don’t think that much is accurate. It would be very difficult to track them,” Hickman said.
One notable case occurred in 2011 when Ashley Madison employee Doriana Silva filed a lawsuit stating that she was compelled to create over 1,000 bogus accounts in three weeks in preparation to launch the Portuguese language website in order to attract real customers. She claimed to have suffered severe injuries to her hands and wrists, according to The Huffington Post.
Ashley Madison began to draw attention in July of 2015, according to The Associated Press, when a group who addressed itself as the Impact Team issued a threat to release all of the websites user, credit card and profile detail information if Avid Life Media, the parent company, did not immediately shut down the website and sister websites of similar functions. The motive behind the breach, the team said, was Ashley Madison’s policy of not deleting user information data even after explicit requests from the user. KSL released information by Hickman regarding the accounts created in Utah last week.
The website continues to grow despite the hacking scandal, a spokesperson from Avid Life Media told AP. Only three ZIP codes, two in Alaska and one in New Mexico, remain free of Ashley Madison users, according to Reuters.
The identities of the Utah government officials could not be fully identified, although The Salt Lake Tribune did identify nine state employees who worked for the departments of transportation, human services and natural resources; one Utah courts official; one Salt Lake County Health Department employee; two Salt Lake City Fire Department employees and two police officers. The Tribune decided not to release specific names, because the employees did not commit a crime.
AP recently reported that two Canadian law firms, Charney Lawyers and Sutts, Strosberg LLP, of Ontario, have filed a $578 million lawsuit “on behalf of all Canadians,” for damages caused by the breach.