British spy agencies are using the massive leak as a way into the lives of people of interest.
When hackers Impact Team stole the information out of 33 million user accounts from Canadian “cheating website” Ashley Madison last month, they exposed over 1.2 million UK residents to potential embarrassment. And, it turns out, to intelligence activity.
The Telegraph reports that British government agents are pouring over the released information to determine its potential for use in the spy world. A unnamed senior government official told the news source, “We have been looking to see if our people are vulnerable. But there are also people looking at it to see how it can be used. Some countries will be using it for blackmail.”
While MI 6, the organization internationally known for its fictional association with super agent James Bond, denies it uses blackmail, other agencies are not so scrupulous. The mountains of data from the hack include names, email addresses, home addresses, and financial information, all of which could provide new leaks and pressure points for persons already under intelligence surveillance.
Nigel Inkster, former MI6 official, said, “If you are looking at a person as a intelligence target, then of course knowing as much as possible about what’s missing from their lives and what they are doing to fill it is of potential interest.”
Multiple British government email addresses were uncovered in the hack, including 50 police officials and 92 Ministry of Defense users. The government maintains that the use of the official addresses likely means the accounts are fake.
The leak has already led to multiple reports of attempted extortion for users, so the possibility of turning it to intelligence purposes is not far fetched. Let the games begin.