Despite the pervasiveness of this industry, however, many users continue to engage in behaviors that put their privacy at risk. In general, online privacy refers to your ability to safeguard two kinds of information: Specific facts that others can use to identify you are called personally identifiable information PII. This data includes your name, your date of birth, your Social Security number, your address, your phone number, and so on. The information about what you do online includes what searches you perform, which websites you go to, what articles you read, and even what items you buy online.
Whenever you do anything on the Internet, whether it is downloading an app, visiting a website, or using social media, someone is collecting data about you.
Nov 21, And you wouldn't be alone, as privacy issues in online dating have appeared in the media—two summers ago, during the Rio Olympics. Mar 9, Dating site security issues. To make matters worse, a number of online dating sites aren't very secure. In , researchers at Kaspersky Lab.
This means that you are, however inadvertently, creating a significant digital data trail. While the data in this trail might not contain PII, it still enables strangers to track what you do online and construct a clear picture of you.
While online dating services are constantly innovating to make the Web a safer place to find romance, it still pays to be proactive about protecting your private information. There are many ways that people can use your personal information against you. For example, someone could use your dating profile as evidence in a lawsuit against you. Even after you cancel your subscription, dating websites often store your profile and pictures in their databases, and depending on the legal situation which could include divorce or custody proceedings, lawsuits related to employment, and possibly medical-related lawsuits , websites must turn over this information in response to a court order.
One which we find commonly pulls up someone's identity is: When you get a hit that is, in fact, you, stay calm. Staying under the search radar is often as simple as deleting a few words from your profile. For example, with my client Allie, it was her job that set off the Google search. Even when she simplified the way she described her career, it still resulted in her identity.
So she nixed it from her profile entirely, opting only to select an industry drop-down from the dating site instead. You might get a lot of hits if your name is unique, so in extreme cases, you may want to consider signing your messages with a different name. I don't mean lie, but instead protect yourself by using only your first initial "B" , a different spelling of your name "Bettie" instead of "Betty" , or a nickname "Bette" instead of "Bettina". It's unlikely a man would fault you for being savvy and safe.
For clients concerned with seeing coworkers on a dating app or site, I usually suggest they rethink this worry of theirs. If the other person is a member too, what do you have to be embarrassed about? But for clients like Jennifer who find the concern insurmountable, there are new, special features that allow you to pick and choose who sees your profile. When someone you message views your profile, it looks just the same as any other -- no special call out that you're keeping things under the radar.
OkCupid's newly-launched "Incognito" feature works the same way.
Other sites and apps use Facebook Connect to automatically remove people already in your circle from your view. The data is encrypted, but the researchers could tell the difference between the two responses by the length of the encrypted text. By exploiting the two flaws, an attacker could therefore see the images the user is looking at and the direction of the swipe that followed. For the attack to work, though, the hacker and victim must both be on the same WiFi network.
That means it would require the public, unsecured network of, say, a coffee shop or a WiFi hot spot set up by the attacker to lure people in with free service. To show how easily the two Tinder flaws can be exploited, Checkmarx researchers created an app that merges the captured data shown below , illustrating how quickly a hacker could view the information.
That could put users in danger. And from a technical standpoint, issues with app security reach well beyond Tinder, according to security experts. Casey Oppenheim, co-founder and CEO of the data privacy and security company Disconnect, which has partnered with Consumer Reports to help create a digital privacy standard, notes that Tinder appears to use SSL encryption for most of its connections.
That may explain what happened in this case, he says. But Tinder needs to perform both tasks promptly, they say. According to Cornell, hackers are probably looking for ways to take advantage of the vulnerabilities right now, not just on Tinder, but also on other apps with similar setups.
In the meantime, these research findings should serve as a warning to consumers to stay off public WiFi if they want to keep their activities private, says Brookman of Consumers Union.
I write about all things "cyber" and your right to privacy. I've lived in the Bronx for more than a decade, but as a proud Michigan native, I will always be a die-hard Detroit Tigers fan no matter how much my family and I get harassed at Yankee Stadium.
Follow me on Twitter BreeJFowler.