Adult FriendFinder & Co.: Dangerous Cyber Liaisons

Let me start out by saying that this post is not about whether dating websites/apps are good or bad. I’m not qualified to make that call. But if you’re using them, you should understand the risks. And as your reward for reading (and hopefully sharing this post), I’ve listed at the bottom Tinder’s best – and most dangerous pickup lines… So let’s get started – with a quiz!

What do Adult FriendFinder, CupidMedia, eHarmony and Tinder have in common?

Yes, they all regularly lead to matches made in cyber heaven (and no doubt, hellish heartbreaks), but that’s not the point: they all display(ed) security vulnerabilities. Let’s walk through them one-by-one.

1. Putting yourself out there… And all your data too

Adult FriendFinder was just hacked. Happens to companies all the time you say? Fair enough, but what is remarkable here is the quality of leaked data: 3.5 million gorgeous profile pics and sexy alias’ – along with names, emails, zip codes, IP addresses, passwords and sexual preferences. In other words, the perfect cocktail needed for targeted spam and identity theft.

TIPS:

  1. Create a new email address dedicated to the dating website.
  2. Use a nickname or alias instead of your full name.
  3. Create a unique and complex password for that platform (back in 2012, eHarmony accounts with the glorious password – “password”, were compromised).
  4. If twitterpated makes you forgetful, use a password manager to create and store these passwords for you.

2. I know where you hang out

Tinder is a very popular dating app, which is premised on selecting profiles of people who are located close to you (very popular with Olympians at Sochi…). Once both parties ‘like’ each other’s profiles, they can start chatting.

Back in 2014, a vulnerability was identified that enabled hackers to pinpoint users’ exact location in real-time. This facilitated stalking and opened the door (quite literally) to burglaries, knowing that the user was not at home.

Although this vulnerability has since been fixed, a recent study by IBM identified 26 out of 41 dating apps on Android that had “medium or high security vulnerabilities”. These apps tend to request excessive permissions and run up expensive charges…

TIPS:

  1. Although the names of unsafe apps were not divulged, IBM did say that Match, OkCupid and Tinder were not on the “blacklist”…
  2. Always keep your apps up-to-date to reduce the chances of falling prey to security vulnerabilities.

3. I can see you… Through your camera and webcam…

Remember Blackshades – that creepy Trojan that gave hackers access to webcams (and was used by a sextortionist to prey on Miss Teen USA)? Like most chatting platforms, dating websites and apps are popular avenues for distributing malware. After all, an innocuous-looking link, promising a revealing picture, can just as easily open a harmful website or file. To paraphrase the late Robin Williams, we were given a brain and nether regions but only enough blood to run one at a time.

TIPS:

  1. Use common sense: if an unknown user is offering to share revealing pictures, pass.
  2. Use an antivirus on your devices. I also recommend you use an app that shows you what permissions your mobile apps are getting. Avira’s free Android app includes both these functionalities and can be found on Google Play.

 

As promised… Tinder’s Most Dangerous Pickup Lines…*

  1. I know this profile’s fake, but can I get the name of the model you used?
  2. Going to undress… want to watch on webcam?
  3. Credit card is to prove your age… Can’t show stuff to minors…
  4. I don’t have any pics on my phone, but here’s one I have in email, answer me on text, not here.
  5. I’m still recovering from last night with this iPhone game. Play with me and I’ll give you my number.

* Disclosure: explicit sexual content was removed from the pick-up lines.

Leor is a copywriter and content marketer for Avira.