t is time when using dating websites and apps is as common a practice as giving flowers. There are a dozen of popular apps, such as Grindr, Bumble, etc. However, not everyone cares about the risks of using such tools and data protection. The risks are quite so great, and it is about time to take steps to secure yourself and your mate.
Many believe that online dating is an even more romantic experience than traditional live dating. It feels like that because you are talking to someone who is away from you. While doing so, you have to share some personal and maybe intimate information and get this kind of information from the other one. You don’t want this information to get out into the open, do you?
Unfortunately, scammers are always on the watch-out. They have started attacking these apps and gotten many users’ private information (pictures, conversations, etc.). There are tons of information that is made available via dating apps and services, because many of them do not take data protection seriously and leave vulnerabilities uncorrected. Scams use these vulnerabilities and steal personal and private information.
This does not mean that online dating should be prohibited. There are safer ways to use these apps and still have a happy Valentine’s Day!
It all appeared just recently. Some most popular dating apps like Tinder and Grindr have made mistakes when sharing data, which led to information falling into the wrong hands. Owners of this information should be the first ones to decide how to handle it and whether or not they want to share it with others.
These two apps have been known to have made users’ personal information public (unintentionally). In 2013, a vulnerability was detected in Tinder, which would allow to track a user’s location and pinpoint it within just hundreds of feet. Tinder zoomed it out for miles and made the tracking much harder. Grindr proved to have the same problem in 2014. It took steps to solve it, but two years later it was still possible to locate users by way of triangulation. In 2018, the problem was still far from solved: a security expert concluded that it was still easy to track a Grindr user’s location, even users, whose data was not to be shared based on their agreements with Grindr.
In 2017, Kaspersky reported on some of dating applications (Bumble, Tinder, OkCupid, etc.), whose Android versions proved to be vulnerable to attacks due to poor data protection. All a hacker would need to do is access a Facebook authorization token. Once he or she’d do, he would be able to track all messages passing through a dating service. Users’ data was seriously compromised.
According to Checkmarx’s January 2018 research, Tinder would not even use the HTTPS protocol on its iOS and Android applications. Hackers would not have difficulty getting to WiFi users’ data (pictures, messages, etc.) Whatever those users would be doing with their data, the process could be tracked by anyone connecting to the WiFi. About a year ago, Grindr was sued for disclosing users’ HIV status without their consent. The suit was filed by the Norwegian Consumer Council. Grindr promised to stop the sharing and take steps to secure content.
These are the dangers everyone should take into consideration when using dating services. Since there is never a 100% data protection, we should look do some individual work to secure our data.
These may seem like big, systems-level vulnerabilities. However, there are things you can do yourself to patch up potential security failures in the dating apps you use. Apart from using a reliable VPN connection (with BroVPN, for example), there are a number of simple methods.
Use only reliable authentication patterns and be sure that all your passwords are strong and unique. Do not use the same password for different sites.
Do not follow links arriving from people you do not know or trust. Stay away from short URLs. If you see an invitation to follow a link, most likely, someone wants you to visit a site, through which he or she is going to collect your data. This is how most Tinder users run into trouble.
Before connecting to a WiFi network with the goal of using a dating app, make sure it is safe and secure. It is highly advisable to connect to a decent online VPN service like BroVPN and thus build an extra barrier against potential attackers and give you additional protection.
Do not use your profile for sharing your personal information like place of work or address. Dating apps do have these fields, but are not obliged to fill them. Hackers can match your dating accounts with those you have on social networks like Facebook, LinkedIn, etc.
Do not tie your dating account to a social network account, because a breach in your social network could cause information from you dating profile to flow in an unknown direction. For the same reason, it is not advisable to tie your dating profile to messenger services like WhatsApp, Telegram, etc.
Use a specific email for your dating profiles instead of using your everyday one. This will boost anonymity and reduce the risk of hacking.
If there are location sharing tools on your dating profile, take steps to disable them
Do not be in a hurry to share your everyday phone numbers with your potential mate. Instead, use a service like Burner or Phoner, which can provide you a temporary phone number for a small fee or for free. This will give you a time margin, so you can get to know a person a little better before trusting him/her with your phone number.
To check an account for authenticity, try reverse image search. If you realize that the picture belongs to a celebrity, you may be dealing with a bot, and the account is fake.
In fact, you do need to share information about yourself, because this is the only way to make someone want to communicate with you and eventually meet in reality. You can discuss your interests and preferences, but do not be in a hurry to specify locations (restaurants, addresses, etc.) You can talk about kebab restaurants, for example, but do not specify one located at an intersection of 5th Avenue and 2nd Street. Do not be quick to agree to share your personal information if your would-be partner asks you to.
Do not share digital photos right after starting to communicate online. Potential hackers can use its metadata to identify you. Do not friend your would-be mate on your social network account shortly after starting to communicate. If you do, all your contacts and personal data will become available to him/her and may be used against you.
Do not lend money to anyone asking you to, even if the message has arrived from a friend!
There are two reasons why VPN services are increasingly popular among online daters. Number one: they choose VPN as an additional security layer to ensure data protection. Number two: there are regions where dating services are not allowed, or someone has to realize that his/her favorite dating service and therefore connection with the mate has been blocked.
In countries like China, Cuba, North Korea and Iran, Internet censorship policies are tough. If you are traveling to such places, you need to do something to retain the romance of searching for your soul mate and/or stay in touch him/her. Although there is a lot of skepticism about online dating, these services account for about 20% of all happy relationships.
With BroVPN by your side, you will enjoy a much safer IT connection. Online VPNs use layered protocols and a number of authentication patterns – passwords and certificates. VPNs work on a peer-to-peer basis, as users’ devices function as servers, and there is always an opportunity to switch to another device in any part of the world. Thanks to these techniques, dating users can circumvent all barriers and keep their data (pictures, messages, ID, etc.) secure against any hacking.
BroVPN uses a reliable platform, and the service never stops checking it for vulnerabilities. The app seamlessly integrates with all popular devices and operating systems, so you can date safely with a laptop, tablet or smartphone at hand.
Although online VPN has proved to be a relatively secure option, it does have some weak spots. Please, do not refrain from taking the precautions mentioned above. Finally, online dating is a risk in itself, because you are about to meet a complete stranger. Be careful when meeting someone offline and choose a neutral place for a meeting, not one, which you attend regularly.
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