According to John McAfee, in a report for ibtimes, Ashley Madison was not hacked - the data was stolen by a woman operating on her own who worked for Avid Life Media.
McAfee makes the claim based on his own analysis of the data dumps provided saying: “... this job was done by someone who already had the keys to the Kingdom. It was an inside job.
He says that the group of hackers claiming responsibility for the ‘hack' “ simply did not exist. I gleaned this information from reliable sources within the Dark Web.”
In addition, McAfee says he shows ibtimes the data on which he based his conclusions, which “... included such delicate material as the decoded password hash tables of every Avid Life and Ashley Madison employee, which I have also now destroyed.”
The conclusion was reached based on experience: “I have spent my entire career in the analysis of cyber-security breaches, and can recognise an inside job 100 percent of the time if given sufficient data - and 40GB is more than sufficient. I have also practiced social engineering since the word was first invented and I can very quickly identify gender if given enough emotionally charged words from an individual. The perpetrator's two manifestos provided that.”
Examples of inside knowledge cited include the perpetrator having intimate knowledge of the technology stack of the company (all the programs being used). “For example, the data contains actual MySQL database dumps. This is not just someone copying a table and making into a .csv file. Hackers rarely have full knowledge of the technology stack of a target.”
Also the volume included material not immediately accessible or of interest to hackers, such as office layouts to every email of the CEO, and even program code that could have taken years to get by hacking, but of no interest to hackers, suggesting high level central access to all material distributed across the organisation.
Calling men "scumbags", and saying of one, that he "spitefully" joined Ashley Madison the day after Valentine's Day, and seen by McAfee as strong indicators that the perpetrator was a woman.