One of Scotland’s most senior civil servants has claimed he only signed up to an adultery website “out of interest in data protection issues” after being caught with his trousers down for registering with Ashley Madison.
Kenneth Hogg, who starts as the Scottish Police Authority’s interim chief officer this week, also said he paid the Ashley Madison website a one-off fee after being informed his contact details had been “captured” by his online browsing.
Ashley Madison – whose slogan is ‘Life is Short. Have an Affair’ was hit by a major breach in 2015, after hackers stole over 9.7 gigabytes of data – including information on customers’ sexual preferences, nude pictures, and real names and addresses – and dumped the details online.
Despite denials, the data breach exposed the names of a number of high profile figures. Last week it emerged that Hogg’s details were included in the leak.
An entry included a personal email address in his name, as well as his Edinburgh postcode and the last four digits of a credit card. One payment of around $15 was made with the card in April 2015, the Sunday Herald reports.
In a statement, Hogg claimed: “I looked at the company’s website when it became an international news story. I had never heard of the company until that time and looked at its website out of interest in data protection issues.
“The website told me that my contact details had been captured by my visit, and it offered me the option to have that data deleted from the website for the payment of a small one-off fee. I paid that fee at that time.”
He added: “That is the only reason that any financial details pertaining to me could be held by the website and I have never made any other payments to this website for any other purpose, nor to any other site of a similar nature. This was my only interaction with that website and that company.
“I was not aware that these various elements of personal data were accessible within hacked data that is in the public domain, and I have taken appropriate steps to further protect and secure my personal information.”
Graeme Pearson, the former head of the Scottish Crime and Drug Enforcement Agency, said he accepted his Hogg’s explanation, even though it is only members who pay a sign-up fee. He said: “It’s a great example of folk in positions of power having to be very careful about their access to websites, even for research purposes. This should always be done through your own organisation, rather than on a personal computer.”
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