Sources in the mainstream media have today reported Internet security expert John McAffee suggesting the recent Ashley Madison hack has to be an inside job.

Ashley Madison, a website promoting discreet affairs for married people, recently had all it’s website visitor and user data leaked with millions of email addresses and personal information losing their privacy.

Other reports have included disturbing and saddening details regarding two sucicides, allegedly directly related to the leak.

This of course raises many issues, and from a bystanders point of view there is certainly cause to question and discuss morality, trust and marketing in relation to modern online consumers.

The hack raises questions as to how our personal information is stored and secured by the websites we determine safe for our custom.

It’s also interesting to consider from a marketing perspective how brands based entirely online, such as Ashley Madison, move forward in the wake of such a media storm, and the tragedies already associated.

Brand awareness is literally everything for such a website business and although millions apparently used the site beforehand, there are now many millions more reading daily stories, all increasing brand familiarity.

Back in 2011 Sony suffered a similarly devastating hack, which resulted in a sales slump that hit an all time slow.

But of course Sony already had an incredibly established brand presence, which after the immediate removal of trust that resulted in the slump, has now in 2015 reversed and the company made a massive $160m operating income on Playstation 4 consoles. Unlike Ashley Madison, there don’t appear to have been any tragic deaths associated with the Sony hack for consumers to react to either.

How Ashley Madison handle the increase in new visitors they will undoubtably already be receiving, and how the new traffic actually converts into sign ups will likely make or break their brand.

Will consumers distrust the brand to such an extent that they won’t use it? 

Or in this new age of ever increasing tweets and social interaction online will consumers overlook their apprehensions, especially for a business whose sole purpose is, for many people, morally wrong?