No matter how curious you are, there are two reasons not to download the Ashley Madison database of would-be cheaters: It's potentially dangerous and it's stolen property.

Security experts are busy rifling through the database of some 37 million names on the site that were posted by hackers this week. But they have some advice: don't try this at home.

The actual 9.7 gigabytes of data posted by the hackers, who call themselves The Impact Team, was posted on the Dark Web in two chunks, one on Tuesday and one Thursday.

But getting to them isn't easy for the non-technical. The Dark Web is a series of networks accessible only by running specific software and, in some cases, with specific authorization.

Running this software to download the databases could expose your computer to spyware, viruses and theft of your personal information.

The Ashley Madison databases were initially only available via Tor browsers, or Internet browsers that allow users to access information without making visible their Internet addresses. Since being posted, the databases have also been shared via the file-sharing system BitTorrent. It's a legitimate way to move large files around, but users who aren't familiar with it, and with the Dark Web, could potentially expose themselves to malicious software without realizing it.

"If you know what you're doing, it's probably not dangerous. If you don't, it could be," said Jonathan Cran, vice president of operations at Bugcrowd, a San Francisco-based computer security company.

"There's certainly a reputation amongst torrent sites that there's more danger of being infected with malware or spyware," said Cran.

Legally, it's also an iffy proposition.

By law, the entire database belongs to Avid Life Media, the company that owns the Ashley Madison site.

Downloading it is legally the same as downloading a pirated movie. It's stolen property, said Scott Vernick, partner and head of the data security and privacy practice at the law firm of Fox Rothschild in Philadelphia.

"Just because this information is available on the Internet doesn't mean it's open season and you can just go and get it without impunity," Vernick said.

As a practical matter, he admits it's unlikely the police are going to go after everyone who downloads the files, even if they could be identified. But it is stolen property and should be treated as such.

"You'd be guilty of some kind of copyright violation, for which there are civil penalties," Vernick said.

And of course, if anyone tries to use the stolen data for extortion, blackmail or commercial advantage "you're breaking the law," he said.

If you simply must search the list, the safest way to do so is to go to one of the multiple searchable database sites that have been created using the stolen data.

They include Trustify,, and Have I been pwned?.

Though which sites are up is subject to change.

Already one of the first,, has been removed after Avid Life's legal team threatened it with copyright infringement under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, according to a statement on the site.