Significant risks can accompany intense activity on dating apps. Online dating was a blast year, but personal information has remained vulnerable.
In 2020 people have led to an increase in the popularity of dating applications. For example, the total number of hits on Tinder increased by 11% last year, with the daily number of hits exceeding the record 3 billion for the first time since March 2020.
Intensified activity on dating applications could be accompanied by increased risks for their users.
Dating apps users may face some of the following threats:
- User identification by third parties. Foreigners can access a user's personal data, including their real name and where they live, work or study. This information can then be used later by bad people.
- The personal data associated with the account can be stolen.
- Fraud. Some of the most popular scams include asking users to transfer money under various pretexts.
Whether a user falls victim to any of these scams depends mainly on the security measures implemented in the application and the type of vulnerabilities.
In 2017, Kaspersky analyzed nine popular dating applications and highlighted the following details:
- Six dating apps allowed people to identify a user's location
- Four dating apps allowed finding out the real name of a user and tracking his social media accounts
- Four dating apps permitted an attacker to intercept sensitive information.
To see if the situation has improved in 2021, we looked at applications with the most users worldwide and those that received high ratings in prestigious publications.
The resulting sample included both generic dating applications and niche applications.
- Tinder - one of the most popular dating applications in the world. Downloaded over 100 million times from Google Play.
- OkCupid - downloaded over 10 million times from Google Play.
- Badoo - another trendy dating application. Downloaded over 100 million times from Google Play.
- Bumble - an application in which women make the first move. Downloaded over 10 million times from Google Play, with 42 million monthly active users in the third quarter of 2020.
- Mamba - downloaded over 10 million times from Google Play.
- Pure - an app for occasional connections and anonymous meetings. It was downloaded over 1 million times from Google Play.
- Feeld - it allows you to search for partners in polyamorous relationships. It was downloaded over 1 million times from Google Play.
- Happn - for meeting random people you meet in the app. It was downloaded over 50 million times from Google Play.
- Her - a dating app for LGBTQ. Over 1 million downloads from Google Play.
Dating apps won't go away anytime soon. A study conducted by Stanford in 2019 found that online dating was already the most popular way for American couples to meet. The good news is that as these applications continue to become more popular, efforts to improve their security are increasing, especially from a technical perspective.
However, dating applications still leave significant amounts of users' personal information vulnerable, including their approximate or exact location, social media accounts with any data they contain, photos and chats.
The hopes and expectations for a secure digital connection future are:
• In the future, users will be able to hide photos and GPS locations needed to establish compatibility.
• Accounts will be verified to prove that the potential for compatibility is real and that person is who they say they are.
• Users will be able to restrict other people's access to screenshots of their profiles and messages, free of charge in any application.
• Users will be able to delete their chats.
• Applications will inform new users about the risks of sharing too much information.
• Application developers will use AI to protect users from fraud and stop distributing abusive and/or sensitive content.
Tips for staying safe when using online dating apps:
- ! Don't share too much personal information (last name, employer, photos with friends, political views, etc.).
- ! Enter your location manually, where possible.
- ! Use two-factor authentication.
- ! Delete or hide your profile if you have stopped using the application.