Charlotte, NC - At least 115 email domains attached to North Carolina state agencies, local governments and school district officials have been connected to the hacking of the popular cheating website AshleyMadison.com.
Nine of those domains were found to be connected to Charlotte city government employees.
"We haven't had enough time yet to go into the actual identities of the majority of the people we found. What we have right now are the email addresses and from there we'll be able to identify those people, and Charlotte is high on our list of to identify who these people are,” said Matt Caulder, a reporter for N.C. Capitol Connection, which is part of the Civitas Institute, a conservative think-tank based in Raleigh. “Right, right now we're up to 115 total in the state. The first wave we found 30 really quickly, we built it up from there to where we are now.”
After hackers released the personal information of more than 32 million registered users on Ashley Madison, Caulder began to manually search the domain names for any possible North Carolina government connections.
“We found emails connected to six state agencies, and several local governments, including nine in Charlotte,” Caulder said.
Specifically, Caulder found emails linked to the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services, the North Carolina Department of Transportation, Durham county, the city of Raleigh, the city of Charlotte, and many others.
Caulder told FOX 46 that more than 45 email domains linked to school districts were identified.
“They're school officials, they're students, they're faculty, they're a whole array of different people in the school system,” he said. “We aren’t going to release the identities yet.”
While those who are exposed in the hack likely face embarrassment, ridicule, and even the possibility of harsher fallouts, Caulder said the real problem is government officials have reportedly been using taxpayer time and taxpayer resources to get on the website, which could possibly open the government computers up to security risks.
“Opening any of these sites and these files really exposes these computers to programs they wouldn't be exposed to otherwise, and that's one of the concern, along with the concern that it is a waste of taxpayer resources and time possibly to be doing this,” he said. “I’m shocked by just the sheer number, the fact that we're up to 115 of these addresses, going into it I never expected to find this many.”
Caulder said several agencies have already reached out to him for help with their internal investigations.
"The way we're working with them is if they own the domain and they're doing an investigation, we're happy to hand over the actual email address for the investigation and cooperate with them,” he said.