Online dating users in UAE baring their data, warns survey
Dubai - 18% online daters gave out personal details to matches, some within minutes or hours of the match
On Valentine's Day, love is in the air, but it comes with a warning for all lovestruck internet users.
New research suggests that oversharing on online dating sites could result in more than you bargained for, opening the door to not just a date, but to scammers and cybercriminals.
22 per cent of online dating users in the UAE admit that they give out personal data to matches within just minutes or hours of starting a dialogue, putting themselves at risk, said the survey by Kapersky Lab.
These days, it's quite common to look online for romantic prospects, but it turns out that many online dating site users even put highly personal and sensitive information on their public dating profiles.
A quarter (25 per cent) of UAE users surveyed admit to sharing their full name publicly on their dating profile; 15 per cent have shared their home address and 9 per cent posted details about their work or trade secrets, and 9 per cent have shared photos of family members.
All these expose much more than they realise.
It might seem harmless and a way to quickly find a potential match, but 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.
|A chance of love, with 0% safety|
. 22% - UAE online dating users give out personal data
. 25% - admit to sharing their full name publicly
. 15% - shared their home address
. 9% - posted details about their work or trade secrets
. 9% - shared photos of family members
. 18% - give out personal details to matches
. 22% - did so within minutes or hours of matching
. 20% - tell embarrassing facts about themselves to matches
. 50% -experienced some form of IT security incident
. 57% - concerned about their data being stolen or leaked from the dating app
. 64% - experienced some threat or problem, like online to offline threats
. 23% - don't allow dating apps to access device data
. 26% - use a security or antivirus solution
Users in the UAE are even more likely to give up information to those they 'matched' with online: 18 per cent give out personal details to matches, with 22 per cent doing so within minutes or hours. 20 per cent tell these people embarrassing facts about themselves. If these falls into the wrong hands, it could be used to exploit users by accessing their accounts and devices, or even for blackmail purposes with cybercriminals demanding money from their victims.
In what comes as a relief, none of the surveyed users gave their matches private photos of themselves.
With this tendency to share so much information, online daters are exposed to more cyberthreats - with the research showing that half (50 per cent) of online daters in the UAE experienced some form of IT security incident, such as having their devices or accounts hacked, or being targeted by ransomware, compared to 39 per cent of people that do not date online. This proves the former are more vulnerable and susceptible to attack.
This translates into concerns - with online dating users in the UAE being worried for their safety. 60 per cent are worried about the device they use for online dating becoming infected and 57 per cent are concerned about their data being stolen or leaked from the dating app or service itself. A staggering 64 per cent overall have experienced some form of threat or problem while dating online - ranging from online to offline threats.
Yet, despite all this, a worrying lack of online daters use simple methods to protect themselves, just 23 per cent don't allow dating apps to access their device data and only 26 per cent 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," said 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, 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.