As Valentineâ€™s Day approaches, users are increasingly exposed to a series of scams and privacy dangers hidden by dating apps. Bitdefender offers some security advice to help users chat on Tinder in a safer environment.
1. Stay away from fake profiles
Fake profiles have been making rounds on dating apps for a while now. On Tinder, you can set the maximum distance (in miles or kilometers) of your potential date. To target users in a precise region, scammers may fake their location, so make sure you donâ€™t trust the person youâ€™re talking to only because she or he seems to live in your neighborhood. Click the â€œiâ€ button to check if you have things in common (Facebook friends and interests).
Tinder bots typically start the conversation by asking users if they have talked before. Men are mostly targeted, as the idea that a beautiful girl will get naked on webcam is so arousing they completely forget security (or reality). Never click a link you receive via Tinder. It rarely is what it pretends.Â
2. Be careful with social engineers
The fact that Tinder communicates with your Facebook account and scans your contact list and interests is a double-edged sword. The friends you have in common on the social network may have not blocked the access to the â€˜search friendsâ€™ button, so anyone can scan and find your real Facebook ID, family name and other personal details you have shared on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and forums.
3. Avoid excessive sharing of pictures and information
This rule not only applies to Tinder, but to all other apps you are using as well. If you leave few traces online, social engineers and scammers have no information to use against you. Revise your Internet habits by placing yourself in the shoes of a scammer. Try looking for information about yourself on search engines. How many things do you know about yourself?
4. Be careful with stalkers
This advice goes both ways. Avoid swiping right on Tinder (the equivalent of liking somebody) if you have nothing in common with that person. Donâ€™t share your actual location and other personal details before meeting your date in real life and starting some form of relationship. If you want to find out more about your matches, be careful of your stalking habits. Fraudsters target stalkers, too, according to a recent Bitdefender study. A growing class of cyber-crook has now started to prey on the â€œpredatorsâ€ and place malvertising on people search engines.
5. Donâ€™t click on dubious links! Â
Besides Tinder bots spreading malicious URLs in conversations, you may also get scammed if you click the links in the About section. The most common bios include mottos and short descriptions, but others also promote links to blogs or business web sites. Make sure you have your software and mobile security solution updated when opening those links in your browser.
6. Avoid posting pictures of your children
Baby pictures on a dating platform might do the trick for your future nanny, but not necessarily for your future dates. Avoid posting pictures with your children, as they may be used for nefarious purposes. Besides the dangers posed by pedophiles and stalkers, cyber-criminals may steal the pictures and use them in spam for commercial purposes.
7. Increase your anonymity
To increase your anonymity while flirting on Tinder, connect with a dedicated Facebook account where you have only shared a couple of pictures. Provide as little in the way of personal details as possible and use a nickname or alias instead of your real name. To protect your identity, use an alternative e-mail account instead of the current personal or office account.
Tinder is not the only dating app that communicates with your Facebook account. `Badoo â€“ â€˜Meet Your Valentineâ€™ also receives and reads text and multimedia messages. Make sure you privately store your pictures and information. Always check the permissions your dating apps require.
This advice goes for all apps and online services. Tinder admits it shares user information with third parties such as analytics companies and advertisers. â€œWe generally require these other companies to keep our users’ information confidential,â€ Tinder said.
10. Consider the breaches
Before finding your Valentine, consider the risks youâ€™re exposing yourself to. These apps may also suffer breaches. In August 2013, dating site OK Cupid had a security hole that allowed anybody to access other accounts. Tinder also unwittingly exposed usersâ€™ locations to other people on the service.
â€œWe had a very, very, very brief security flaw that we patched up very quickly,â€ Tinderâ€™s CEO Sean Rad said. â€œWe were not exposing any information that can harm any of our users or put our users in jeopardy.â€
Launched in 2010, Tinder gained worldwide popularity due to its easy-to-use system that matches people based on how they rate each otherâ€™s pictures. Before creating an account, make sure you also check this Tinderella video that has been making rounds on YouTube.