They say that love is blind, and that seems to be true when it comes to people sharing all when dating online, in the hope of securing a match.
Research from Kaspersky Lab suggests that oversharing on dating sites could result in more than what users bargained for, opening the door to not just a date, but to scammers and cybercriminals.
Figures show that 11% of online dating users in South Africa admit that they give out personal data to matches within minutes or hours of starting a dialogue, putting themselves at risk.
Users of online dating services are freely giving up highly personal and sensitive information without a second thought, with many making it public on their profile. Locally, just under a quarter (23%) admit to sharing their full name publicly on their dating profile; 12% have shared their home address and (13%) details about their work or trade secrets this way, and 8% have shared naked photos of themselves on their profile, exposing much more than they realise.
Users locally are even more likely to give up information to those they have been “matched” with in the online dating world — 12% give out personal details to matches, 11%doing so within minutes or hours. 15% tell these people embarrassing things about themselves and 16% provide matches with private or unclothed photos of themselves.
If it falls into the wrong hands, this information could be used to exploit users by accessing their accounts and devices, or even for blackmail purposes with cybercriminals demanding money from their victims.
As active Internet users, online daters are exposed to more cyberthreats. Research shows that 51% of individuals in South Africa that use online dating have experienced some form of IT security incident, such as having their devices or accounts hacked, or being targeted by ransomware, compared to 30% of people that do not date online. They are, therefore, more vulnerable and susceptible to attack.
This translates into concerns locally, with online dating users being worried for their safety when they date online: 66% are worried about the device they use for online dating becoming infected and similarly (66%) are concerned about their data being stolen or leaked from the dating app or service itself.
A staggering 62% overall have experienced some form of threat or problem locally while dating online — ranging from online to offline threats.
Yet, despite all of this, online daters fail to use simple methods to protect themselves: just 26% don’t allow dating apps to access their device data and only 20% use a security or antivirus solution.
“Users need to exercise caution when it comes to giving away too much about themselves on their public profile or to potential dates — and beyond,” says Andrei Mochola, head of consumer business at Kaspersky Lab. “Much like you wouldn’t tell a passerby in the street your home address and phone number on first meeting them, users of online dating sites need to take responsibility for the security of their data and not assume that it is secure and untouchable within the site or app.
“This advice goes far beyond online dating, and Internet users should protect themselves and their personal information online no matter where they are.”