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SNP MP Michelle Thomson says email was 'harvested' by Ashley Madison hackers

Published 20/08/2015

Michelle Thomson says she has never had any contact with the website.
Michelle Thomson says she has never had any contact with the website.

An SNP MP whose email address was among the millions released in a data hack on adultery website Ashley Madison has said it was "harvested" by hackers.

Michelle Thomson, who represents the Edinburgh West constituency, said she has never had any contact with the site.

The online dating agency, which specialises in affairs, was hacked last month by a group calling itself The Impact Team.

The hackers said it would publish what they claimed was a database of 37 million members and the information has reportedly been posted on the Dark Web, described as the ''underground of the internet'' or the ''internet black market''.

Avid Life Media (ALM), which runs Ashley Madison, has branded the hackers as criminals and said it is investigating the latest claims ''to determine the validity of any information posted online''.

Ms Thomson said: "Along with potentially millions of others, an out-of-use email address seems to have been harvested by hackers.

"I am not aware of or in contact with either Avid Life or Ashley Madison and look forward to finding out more about what has actually happened.

"However, having a personal email address linked to an account doesn't mean that person is really a user of Ashley Madison. Users are able to sign up to the site without responding to an email verification, meaning anyone's email address could have been used to create an account."

It has been reported that 1.2 million Ashley Madison users are British.

There is a danger that people who have had their email addresses connected to the site could be subjected to blackmail, a security analyst warned.

"It's easy to imagine that some people might be vulnerable to blackmail, if they don't want details of their membership or sexual proclivities to become public," Graham Cluley said.

But he stressed that an email address on the dating database is not proof the person associated with it ever registered with or visited the site, because Ashley Madison did not use an email verification system to check users are linked to that address.

Writing on his website he said: "If your email address is in the Ashley Madison database it means nothing. The owner of that email address may never have even visited the Ashley Madison site."

A number of British Government email addresses alleged to have been uncovered through the hack have been posted on an online forum.

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