Since the first COVID-19 global lockdown, various dating apps are keeping people connected. But just like a fairy tale, a digital tale also has its own security issues. In the wake of lockdowns, Kaspersky participated in the Mobile World Congress (MWC) 2021 event held in Barcelona on June 29 to talk about love in the digital age.
Kaspersky’s Senior Malware Analyst, Tatyana Shishkova, presented the highlights of a study they conducted in 2017 on nine dating apps, including Tinder. Shishkova pointed out the risks involved in using the studied dating apps and provided suggestions to the companies and the users to stay safe online.
Security problems and solutions
Shishkova highlighted the malicious side-effects of mishandling of data that could rise to alarming numbers if not checked in time. One of the dangers is for malicious users to pinpoint another person’s location. She explained that “If the dating apps show the distance between users, it is possible to calculate the user’s approximate location by moving around the person that could become a victim.” However, this may also prove to be difficult as “most apps allow to use fake GPS services to mock location.”
Apart from location, people might gain access to another person’s private information such as photos, full name, political beliefs, employment, and so on, putting them at risk of doxing. Doxing is basically revealing someone’s private information without their consent. Based on their studies, Shishkova shared that “Mamba is the only dating app that has a free possibility to blur the profile photos. And users that were added to favorites get access to the photo in original quality…Pure prevents the user from taking screenshots of chats.”
The company’s vision is to build safety measures to safeguard the digital world in fields such as the Internet of Things (IoT), the functioning of smart cities, and online dating. Some of the key solutions that they’re offering include Kaspersky IoT Infrastructure and Kaspersky Transportation System Security based on Kaspersky IoT Secure Gateways which is powered by KasperskyOS.
The future of digital love
During the event, Dr. Roanne van Voorst, a guest speaker and professor of Applied Anthropology at the University of Amsterdam, spoke of how people living in big cities such as Tokyo, New York, and London, get so isolated that they resort to companion robots or sex robots.
She feels that the ease of getting what you want towards digitizing love will eventually lead to boredom explaining that “What drives people is hope. Hope for love or friendship. For human beings, human contact especially love is just, it’s so innate, we all kind of hope for that.” However, as apps are transcending boundaries and giving people a chance to find a partner anywhere in the world, she also feels it is a warm and romantic place to be.
Suggestions to stay and keep safe
While we do recommend some tips to stay safe online for those who are just exploring the online dating world, Kaspersky also has some nifty suggestions for both users and developers.
Suggestions for users
Some of the suggestions are pretty basic, like not sharing too much information about yourself, which includes your last name and employer, as well as your photos with your friends or even your political views. However, it also helps to not connect to the app via your social media account to avoid other parties looking you up through those platforms. Alternatively, you can customize what kind of information you want to be visible to the app.
Apart from that, it would be better to choose apps that allow you to enter your location manually so other parties won’t be able to triangulate your location. Having a 2-factor authentication is also of utmost importance to have a more secure experience and just to avoid having your account getting hacked.
Suggestions for app developers
For developers, Kaspersky recommends considering enabling the possibility of hiding the user’s photos and GPS location. Disabling the ability to screenshot profiles and chat conversations was also a suggestion to simply protect the user from any malicious use.
While it does seem like a simple move, they also recommend reminding the users of the risk of sharing too much private information. Apart from that, verifying users first beforehand would make for a safer experience. Finally, they also recommend that algorithms and AI should use private information to predict matches and protect the users from fraud, sensitive, and abusive content.
YouTube: Love in the digital age: what does the future hold for us?
Photo credits: The feature image has been taken by Shawn Fields. The screenshots have been taken by the author for TechAcute with the permission of Kaspersky and have been provided for press usage.
Sources: Kaspersky / Kaspersky / Kaspersky