In an early-morning press conference held at the Toronto Police Headquarters, Avid Life Media–the parent company of AshleyMadison.com–confirmed through acting Toronto Police Department staff superintendent Bryce Evans that they are offering a cash reward for information leading to the arrest of the hackers who leaked their clients’ information.
Avid Life Media has offered to pay $500,000 Canadian (roughly $380,000 U.S.) for the information.
“Today, I can confirm that Avid Life Media is offering a $500,000 reward to anyone providing information that leads to the identification, arrest, and prosecution of the person or persons responsible for the leak of the Ashely Madison database,” said Evans.
The Toronto police are heading up the investigation, as Avid Life Media calls the Ontario city its home. During the roughly 45-minute press conference (which can be viewed in its entirety here), Evans spoke directly to the “Impact Team”–the alias used by the hackers who cracked the database. Calling this a “wake-up call” to the hackers, Evans also made a point to appeal to the hacking community in general for help.
“To the hacking community, who engage in discussions on the dark web, and who no doubt have information that could assist in this investigation, we are also appealing to you to do the right thing, to acknowledge that this is a unique situation that has caused enormous social and economic fallout,” said Evans. “You know the Impact Team has crossed the line. Do the right thing, and reach out to us.”
Evans also claimed that the Toronto police are investigating two claims of suicides stemming from the release of the information, but so far those claims remain unconfirmed.
The call to action, and the promise of money, gives the investigation an air of urgency for sure, but is it all pointless when hackers are among the most elusive criminals?
“You’re looking for a needle in a haystack of needles, if it even exists. The really good hackers understand the evidence they’re generating and they work so they don’t generate that evidence,” said Lanterman.
According to embattled McAfee anti-virus software developer John McAfee, Avid Life Media won’t have far to look for the culprits. In a piece written for International Business Times, McAfee claims the evidence is all there to suggest that this wasn’t a hack at all, but the work of a disgruntled Ashley Madison employee.
“A hacker is someone who uses a combination of high-tech cybertools and social engineering to gain illicit access to someone else’s data,” writes McAfee. “But this job was done by someone who already had the keys to the Kingdom. It was an inside job.”
The controversial McAfee, who was questioned in connection to a murder in Belize in 2012 and was recently arrested for suspicion of DUI and possession of a firearm in Tennessee earlier this month, went on to give dubious “evidence” to support his theory that the breach was unquestionably the act of a female employee.