HOUSTON (KTRK) -- Eyewitness News has confirmed multiple federal, state and local employees used their government emails to register on the extramarital affair website Ashley Madison. The Chief of Staff for a local state representative is among those caught up in the controversy.
Hackers broke into the website's database last month and now they've posted the emails of millions of users online.
In Texas, we found dozens of public employee emails on a hacker's list of members, and five of them belong to active city of Houston employees. They include a fire department captain, an emergency medical technician, two people who work at the airport, and one working at a water plant.
An Internet security expert says he's not surprised taxpayer funded email addresses are often exposed in these data breaches. He says your money could have been used to pay for fees on Ashley Madison as well.
A bunch of names from NASA also turned up along with those from state agencies and Harris County. Just being on the list could be an employee policy violation. According to a Harris County spokesman, the county's standards of conduct reads unacceptable uses of electronic media include "use for purposes not directly related to the duties or responsibilities of county departments" and "employees have no expectation of privacy regarding use of county property, media and services." Every employee is required to confirm they've read the policy.
"They're sitting on the greatest blackmail database of all time," said Dr. Chris Bronk, an Information Technology Expert and Assistant Professor at the University of Houston, referring to the hackers. "This is not just a spreadsheet with names and addresses and credit card numbers. This is all the interactions and discovery items out there and it's astronomical."
ABC-13 is not identifying the people yet; however one email address belongs to the Chief of Staff for a Houston-area state representative. That House member told Eyewitness News Wednesday night he's "appalled" and "disappointed." "It should not be used for private use and especially not for something like that."
Darian Ward, a spokeswoman for the City of Houston said, "We will have to investigate and confer with our IT and HR departments to see if these are current employees before we take any action."
We are continuing to investigate and get responses from the agencies you pay for.
Hackers' list of cheating website Ashley Madison users includes city of Houston employees
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