Security & Fraud

Ashley Madison Rebuilds Trust After Data Breach

Adultery on-demand site Ashley Madison has had a lot of cleaning up to do since a hack in July of last year.

Last summer, hackers breached Ashley Madison and made off with 33 million accounts worth of usernames, personal and corporate emails and passwords, member profiles, credit card transactions and other data, including information like users’ reported height and weight. Then, in Aug. 2015, a 10-gigabyte file containing the Ashley Madison information went up on BitTorrent.

It was pretty much the worst-case cybersecurity scenario for any social media site and more lurid for onlookers given the site’s long and seedy reputation. But now, as 2016 comes to a close, Ashley Madison has begun to rebuild its reputation — not so much with the cheating stuff (though it has reportedly moved forward in terms of sexual politics) but, more importantly, in terms of its security credibility.

Since last summer’s data breach, the site has implemented more secure methods of payments processing and developed stricter monitoring procedures. In fact, Ashley Madison’s current CEO, Rob Segal, was quoted as saying that the site has actually gained 7 million users since the breach.

Currently, the site boasts 1.6 million unique monthly visitors, 45 percent of whom are single. Moving away from the adultery focus to a broader dating and hookup platform seems to have helped just as much as the beefed-up security.

Segal said that the next step for Ashley Madison in the coming years will likely be to work with Big Data — securely, of course — to potentially start selling ads. “Big Data's a very untapped opportunity for us, but we have to be very, very careful with how we do that ... In the coming year, we will explore that data — and, obviously, keep it quite secure and private — to understand the demographic, and the usage and the behavior and then potentially work with other people.”

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