Ashley Madison Hack Raises Spear Phishing Concerns for US Government

Posted on in Criminal Defense

online security, spear phishing, Illinois Criminal Defense AttorneyWhile families and couples around the country deal with the fallout of the recent data dump of affair-seeking website Ashley Madison subscriber information, cybersecurity experts fear that the door may have been opened for hackers to access more sensitive data maintained by the federal government. By using a technique known as “spear phishing,” hackers may be able to develop information about weaknesses or potential breach points in federal computer systems, possibly leading to future attacks.

Last month’s leak made public the personal information of an estimated 37 million subscribers to the site which openly facilitates adulterous activity. According to reports, some 15,000 military or federal officials created accounts on the site using their government-issued email addresses, including nearly 900 .gov addresses and more than 40 associated with the White House. Hundreds were found to have access their messages and pay membership fees using internet connections in federal offices.

Online security specialists point out that even a single fake message from Ashley Madison opened on a government computer could potentially have infected the entire network with malware. In the world of cybersecurity, attempts to acquire sensitive information via computer network is known as “phishing.” With its more direct approach and specific targets, the generation a false alerts or messages containing harmful pieces of code, or malware, is referred to as spear phishing. Because opening the message is a “voluntary” action, spear phishing often allows malware to go undetected by network security efforts. Malware can potentially offer a hacker access to the government system, which can cause potential economic damage, but creating more serious concerns of espionage.

Computer Crime in Illinois

The hack of Ashley Madison, along with other high-profile security breaches in recent years, would likely to be prosecuted as a federal crime, if the perpetrators are ever identified. However, the state of Illinois also provides for the prosecution of online attacks on a state level as well. Simply accessing a secure computer or network without authorization is considered a misdemeanor. Causing damage to the computer or network, and the removal of data can be prosecuted as a Class 4 felony for a first offense.

If you have been accused of cyber-crime of any kind, including computer tampering or spear phishing, contact an experienced criminal defense attorney in Chicago. As a former prosecutor, Attorney Hal Garfinkel understands the law and is equipped to help you protect your rights and your future. Call 312-629-0669 for a consultation today.

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