SecurityBrief New Zealand - Technology news for CISOs & cybersecurity decision-makers
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Online dating users doxed as personal data exposed
Mon, 26th Jul 2021
FYI, this story is more than a year old

Every sixth user of online dating platforms has been doxed, according to new research.

During the past few decades, the world has rapidly shifted towards digitalisation of everyday practices, including dating. In some countries dating apps became the most popular way for people to meet, while modern couples communication is almost unthinkable without social media.

However, there is another side of the coin: with love transferring to the digital world, the gathering and public exposure of personal data, also known as doxing, has become a major concern.

The team at Kaspersky conducted a survey exposing main threats and fears that users faced while dating online.

With the spread of social networks and dating apps, communication has become easier, faster, and much more convenient. According to Kaspersky research, half (54%) of respondents admit that dating apps have made dating easier for them, 55% claim that they are afraid of being stalked by someone they met online, which is one of the consequences of doxing.

Oversharing personal information in dating apps and social media is something which may lead to big problems in the future. Users leave a vast trace of identifying information online, and this data can be picked up and used to doxers advantage. Doxers access to a targets home address, place of work, name, phone number, etc. increases the risks of transferring threats from the online world to the physical one. For instance, every 6th (16%) respondent admits to having been doxed. Moreover, there are also respondents (11%) who were doxed while dating online but being unfamiliar with the notion of doxing, did not know they were doxed.

Research also reveals more details on privacy threats users face when dating online. 40% of interviewees admit that, while communicating online, their partner shared screenshots of their conversation without their consent, threatened them with personal information they found online, leaked their intimate photos, or stalked them in real life, which is also a direct consequence of doxing. The most widespread problem is cyberstalking 17% of respondents admit that they have been stalked on social media by a person they did not match with.

Threats respondents face when dating online

"Indeed, social media and various apps have made dating much easier for us," says Anna Larkina, security expert at Kaspersky.

"You might find the love of your life online but unfortunately, there are also bots and fraudsters looking for prey on dating platforms.

"That is why while communicating with someone online, it is still important to remember the basic rules of digital privacy," she says.

"To date online safely, I recommend not sharing personal identifying information, such as your phone number, location, home, and work address, etc. Preventing threats at such an early stage will let you enjoy online dating without any fears.