Cops Investigating Ashley Madison Breach: We Need 'White Hat Hackers' to Help

Ashley Madison is also offering a $500,000 reward for any information leading to the hackers' arrest.

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Aug 24 2015, 3:30pm

Image: Dennis van Zuijlekom/Flickr

Toronto Police are asking hackers and dark web denizens to help them track down the Impact Team, the group that has claimed responsibility for the hacking of Ashley Madison, a dating site for married people looking to cheat on their spouses.

"It would be foolish for us in Toronto to think we could do this on our own," acting staff superintendent Bryce Evans said during a press conference Monday morning.

In addition to involving US authorities such as the FBI and Homeland Security, Toronto police are also looking to both the hacking community and those with knowledge of the dark web to come forward with any information that might help reveal the identities of the Impact Team's members.

"We're looking at the white hat hackers, the guys who aren't involved in what happened," said detective John Minard, a member of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police's (RCMP) tech crime unit. "The Impact Team are operating on the dark web, an area of the internet that we don't necessarily police on a daily basis."

Ashley Madison is also offering a $500,000 reward for any information leading to the identification of Impact Team.

"We know they have certain techniques to help us and assist us," acting staff superintendent Bryce Evans said

The Ashley Madison hack has been hailed as a watershed moment in online hacks, due to its sheer size and impact on the lives of ordinary people. During the press conference, Evans pointed to unconfirmed instances of suicides relating to the hack, and to previously reported extortion attempts by criminals.

"I'm concerned that this has gone over the line, because if this is a continuation of what the hacking community is going to be doing, each and every one of you is going to be be compromised no matter what, whether you're on a dating website or some other website" Evans said. Of the hacking community, "We know they have certain techniques to help us and assist us," he added.

If the individuals behind the hack are caught, they may be extradited to Canada, Evans said, although that would be a decision for the courts.

Ashley Madison is owned by Avid Life Media, a Toronto-based company, and the Toronto Police were called just days following the initial hack on July 12th, Evans said. Toronto cops then involved the RCMP, the Ontario Provincial Police, and well as American law enforcement. CSIS, Canada's CIA analogue, is not involved.

The investigation is ongoing.

UPDATE: Avid Life Media has released a statement regarding the ongoing investigation into the Ashley Madison hack by Toronto police. The response is below, in full.

"Avid Life Media Inc. is grateful to the international law enforcement coalition for the update it provided this morning. We are confident that the considerable investigative and prosecutorial power that is being brought to bear on this unprecedented crime will lead to arrests and convictions.

The "Project Unicorn" law enforcement task force members that appeared in Toronto today, led by the Toronto Police Services (TPS), and accompanied by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, the Ontario Provincial Police, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, and the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation, have been actively investigating all aspects of this crime for more than a month. As TPS indicated at today's press event, the investigation is progressing in a "positive direction," but more help is needed from the outside.

As such, and as announced at today's press conference, Avid Life Media Inc. is offering a $500,000 CDN reward payment to anyone who provides information to the Task Force that leads to the identification, arrest, and conviction of the person or persons responsible for the theft of proprietary data.

In the very best interest of our customers, who have been affected by this malicious act, we are firmly committed to fully assisting these law enforcement and investigative authorities, without reserve. Because of this active and ongoing investigation, there is little more we can provide at this time to the media and the public.

Those who have information that will aid this investigation are encouraged to contact the Toronto Police Service's Project Unicorn task force at 416-418-2040416-418-2040>. Anonymous tips may also be phoned into the Toronto Police Services at 1-800-222-TIPS.

The Task Force's Twitter account is @AMCaseTPS.

An archived version of today's TPS news conference may be viewed on YouTube:

Any questions about the investigation and law enforcement activities should be directed to the appropriate law enforcement entity."