Dating app users are now looking for long-term love and not just for quick hook-ups anymore. One look at the Sunday New York Times Wedding section finds online dating apps like Tinder and Bumble increasingly responsible for many a “happy ever after.” Tinder alone has an estimated 50 million users worldwide–but don’t book the chapel yet. Research by Kaspersky Labs shows that hackers have no heart for online love lookers.
Personal–sometimes very personal information is up for grabs by hacks on dating apps–including photos, messaging conversations, names, passwords, and location of the app users. Hackers can often use this data for nefarious deeds from installing ransomware to stalking. With a full information profile on sale online for around $50, hackers make quick cash with no threat of being caught.
Chat bots are also rife on dating sites. Research showed that 70,000 of the “women” (fembots) chatting with men on the infamous Ashley Madison site were actually fembots rather than the real deal. Since the “cheater” site was famously hacked in 2015, exposing the data of 34,000 clients, they had even more explaining to do.
Dating apps are relatively easy to hack. You too can learn how by watching a YouTube video. With inept cyber security, dating apps and the people who use them leave an easy trail for hackers to follow. The rampant lack of data encryption, including photos posted by dating hopefuls, can be stolen and manipulated in real time. For those still using unsecured or free WiFi for dating, always remember a few things:
– Just because a WiFi connection point has a password, it doesn’t mean it’s secure. Your data may still be passing to strangers. It’s best to avoid these and do your swiping from home.
– Create a separate email account used for dating sites only and use a completely unique and strong password that is difficult to crack.
– Always turn off all location settings.
– Don’t give out every detail about yourself on your dating profile. Use discretion and put up only what is necessary. Anything posted on the Internet, whether secured on your account or otherwise, should be considered open and available to everyone, including hackers.
The alarming success of hackers and dating apps prompted Tinder to state “Like every other technology company, we are constantly improving our defenses in the battle against malicious hackers…our desktop and mobile web platforms already encrypt profile images, and we are working towards encrypting images on our app experience as well.”
That’s a start.
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