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SC officials canvassing Ashley Madison data for government email addresses

State officials have begun canvassing data from the Ashley Madison computer breach in search of email addresses belonging to state government employees.

But State Inspector General Patrick Maley says it is too early to say what will happen next.

He said the state chief information office, responsible for overseeing information technology issues in state government, is collecting the information.

“Then they will provide it to us and we will take a look at it,” he told The Greenville News. “They’ve got to extract the data and then we’ve got to decide what to do with it, how to allocate it out, whether agencies need to follow up individually or whether it’s something more systemic. It’s still early.”

Hackers calling themselves the Impact Team breached the data files earlier this summer and threatened to disclose them unless the owners of Ashley Madison took down the spouse-cheating website and another. The owners refused and the hackers released a database earlier this month of 32 million users, identifying some celebrities among them.

An estimated 15,000 accounts in the database carry government or military agency email addresses.

Among those are some accounts bearing email addresses for state and local agencies in South Carolina, as well as schools.

Gov. Nikki Haley said last week that while officials years ago worked on restricting state employees from certain websites using state computers, the Ashley Madison hack may be reason for Maley to again review what state workers can access.

The stolen files include names, email addresses, sexual preferences and other data for users of Ashley Madison, which advertises its site as “the most famous name in infidelity and married dating.”

However, many of the email address names are obvious fakes, so just because an address is listed does not mean someone at the agency was shopping for an affair.

The News reported last week that among the domain names listed among 15,000 accounts tied to government or the military were addresses for the state Department of Health and Environmental Control, the Department of Education, state government, Charleston and the counties of Greenwood and Jasper.

Some of those agencies have launched their own inquiries.

Local impact

About 1.36 percent of Myrtle Beach residents paid for a service on Ashley Madison, making it fourth in the state for per capita usage of the site, according to an analysis.

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