BUSINESS

Ashley Madison Says It's Growing Subscribers, Denies Most Of Its Female Accounts Are Fake

08/31/2015 12:11 EDT | Updated 08/31/2015 12:59 EDT
EVA HAMBACH via Getty Images
TO GO WITH AFP STORY US-LIFESTYLE-LOVE-INTERNET-ADULTERY BY FABIENNE FAUR A man looks at a dating site on his computer in Washington,DC on February 10, 2014. One 29-year-old woman says it helped her take revenge on her unfaithful husband. A 45-year-old married man says it has helped prevent the break-up of his family. For millions, adultery via the Internet has become the new normal. Since the launch of the Canada-based Ashley Madison website in 2002, which created a sensation with its seductive slogan 'Life is short, have an affair,' the numbers turning to online infidelity have soared. There are now dozens of similar websites offering the promise of extramarital relationships with domain names that are unabashedly direct, from www.datingforcheaters.com to www.heatedaffairs.com. For Noel Biderman, the founder of Ashley Madison, his site and others like it are merely facilitating a human desire that is as old as time. AFP PHOTO/EVA HAMBACH (Photo credit should read EVA HAMBACH/AFP/Getty Images)

Despite a hack attack that exposed info on some 37 million accounts, Ashley Madison says it’s growing.

“Recent media reports predicting the imminent demise of Ashley Madison are greatly exaggerated,” Avid Life Media, owner of the dating site for people looking for extramarital affairs, said in a statement Monday.

The company says it’s adding subscribers by the thousands, including 87,596 women in the past week alone.

It rejected an analysis done last week that asserted very few actual women use the site. The analysis found only 9,700 women had ever replied to a mail message in the Ashley Madison system, and only 1,492 had ever open their inbox (it’s possible to answer messages without opening the inbox).

But Toronto-based Avid Life said the analysis was based on a misreading of the data. The analysis, from a Gizmodo tech blogger, “made incorrect assumptions about the meaning of fields contained in the leaked data,” Avid Life said.

“This reporter concluded that the number of active female members on Ashley Madison could be calculated based on those assumptions. That conclusion was wrong.”

In a lawsuit that was dismissed last year, a former Ashley Madison employee alleged she had injured her wrists writing multiple fake profiles of female Ashley Madison subscribers.

The company was rocked earlier this month by the release of partial credit card information and email addresses of 37 million subscribers. That was followed by a data dump purportedly from the same hackers -- The Impact Team -- of hundreds of thousands of internal Avid Life emails, including many from CEO and founder Noel Biderman.

According to news reports, the emails contained evidence that Biderman and colleagues tried to hack a competing dating site, nerve.com, in 2012, and that Biderman carried on multiple affairs, despite repeated claims in the media that he was faithful to his wife.

Avid Life announced Biderman’s resignation on Friday, saying he is “no longer with the company.”

In the wake of the hack, many theories have been offered as to who “The Impact Team” is. Brian Krebs of the closely-watched security blog Krebs on Security has a theory that it’s an AC/DC fan with some link to the Twitter account @deuszu.

John McAfee of McAfee Anti-Virus fame believes the hack attack came from someone inside the company. In an article for the International Business Times, McAfee said a computerized analysis of the data involved in the leak led him to conclude that a lone female who worked for the company carried out the hack attack.

“This job was done by someone who already had the keys to the Kingdom. It was an inside job.”