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WINNIPEG — A City of Winnipeg spokesperson says they’re investigating a Global News report that city email accounts were used to access the cheating website, Ashley Madison.
Earlier this week hackers made good on threats to publish data on 32 million users. Ashleymadison.com, a Canadian based website, caters to married people looking to set up extramarital affairs.
Global News obtained a list that included 20 City of Winnipeg @ winnipeg.ca email addresses and 20 @gov.mb.ca email addresses tied to Government of Manitoba employees. In all there were more than one hundred work emails for Manitoba government, crown corporation, school division and university accounts.
There were 21 Manitoba Hydro email addresses listed among the Ashley Madison client information.
Email accounts from 12 Manitoba school divisions were also on the list.
Global News asked both the city and the province for on-camera interviews regarding the possible use and whether there was a violation of work internet usage protocol. Requests for interviews were denied. Both the city and province said they had existing work place policies regarding internet use, although the province said the use of a site such as Ashley Madison from a work account, was not a violation of that policy.
“The Government of Manitoba has an Employee Network Usage Policy that applies to all government employees. The policy states that employees must not access Internet sites that might bring the Government of Manitoba into disrepute. Employees who violate the Employee Network Usage Policy may face disciplinary action, which may include dismissal or cancellation of a contract. All civil servants take an Oath of Office that they will discharge their duties responsibly. The Manitoba government also has a Value and Ethics Guide and employees receive training that communicates the expectation employees will act in the public interest, act with integrity, act with respect for others, and act with skill and dedication. A reminder memo from the office of the Clerk of Executive Council will be issued to all civil servants about the Employee Network Usage Policy.”
Those registering at Ashley Madision didn’t have to verify their addresses, so it’s not clear if all the accounts are real. If real, they weren’t necessarily entered by the people who they properly belong to.
It’s not clear what policies the various governments and public agencies have governing use of official email accounts for personal business, let alone the use of a notorious site like Ashleymadison.com.
A spokesperson for Manitoba’s NDP government said a statement would be provided later in the day but refused to commit to making a minister or other government official available for an on camera interview.
Global News is not releasing the names attached to the email addresses.
Ashley Madison was initially hacked in July by a group called The Impact Team. The group then threatened Avid Life Media, Ashley Madison’s parent company, if they didn’t close down the cheating website that customer’s information would be released.
The information was dumped on Tuesday. Several security analysts who have scanned the data say they believe the dump is genuine but Global News has not confirmed it.