Law Enforcement To Dark Web Hackers: Give Us Dirt On Ashley Madison Thieves

"We [are] appealing to you to do the right thing."

WASHINGTON -- Law enforcement authorities on Monday urged hackers on the Dark Web, a shadowy part of the Internet that requires special software to access, to provide dirt on the thieves who recently leaked data from the affairs website Ashley Madison. The website's Canada-based parent company, Avid Life Media, is offering a reward of CA$500,000 (about $379,132 in U.S. dollars) for information leading to the arrest and prosecution of those responsible.

Hackers calling themselves the Impact Team dumped a massive amount of stolen data from Ashley Madison on the Internet last week. So far, the leaks have included personally identifiable information from the website's millions of users, as well as the emails of Noel Biderman, CEO of Avid Life Media. The hackers reportedly told Motherboard they are sitting on more employee emails and user photos, including "dick pictures."

"To the hacking community who engage in discussions on the Dark Web and who no doubt have information that could assist this investigation, we [are] appealing to you to do the right thing," said Bryce Evans, acting staff superintendent of the Toronto Police Service, in a press conference on Monday.

Evans urged the hacking community to "acknowledge that this is a unique situation that has caused enormous social and economic fallout. You know the Impact Team has crossed the line."

Canadian police forces are working with a number of other law enforcement agencies, including the FBI. Officials on Monday described some of the fallout of the hack, including credit card exploitation, "hate crimes" and two unconfirmed reports of suicides linked to the leak.

Law enforcement officials did not comment further on the reports of suicide. News outlets have reported that a San Antonio police captain took his own life after his email was allegedly leaked. Some 15,000 of the email addresses included in the breach appear to be government and military accounts, CNN reported, although it's unclear which of those accounts have been verified.

Officials provided few details about the identity of the hackers in the press conference, but Evans said the investigation -- which he called "Project Unicorn" -- is progressing in a "positive fashion." Some security experts have speculated that the hack was an inside job, but officials at Monday's press conference did not indicate whether that was a particular focus of the investigation.

Evans noted that several employees at Avid Life Media received a threatening message on their computers in July, accompanied by the song "Thunderstruck" by AC/DC. Evans said the company has been fully cooperative with the police investigation. As of Monday, he said, "the investigative team has found no criminal wrongdoing involving Avid Life Media." 

Need help? In the U.S., call 1-800-273-8255 for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.

Language has been added to clarify that Avid Life's offer of a $500,000 reward is in Canadian dollars.