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SciTech

Dating app users at risk of falling victim to malware, phishing—cybersecurity provider


Looking for a Valentine's date this weekend? You may want to think twice before installing that dating app.

You might just end up giving information to a cybercriminal.

According to cybersecurity provider Kaspersky, cybercriminals hide under the guise of popular online dating apps such as Tinder and Badoo to spread malware or retrieve personal information of unsuspecting users.

Users whose personal data has been compromised are said to be bombarded with unwanted advertisements or they unknowingly spend their money on expensive paid subscriptions, Kaspersky said in a Thursday press release.

On malware, the company said that these files had nothing to do with legitimate apps, as they only used the name and design of the softwares.

The cybersecurity company recently conducted an analysis of malware that used the names of 20 popular dating applications in 2019.

Results showed that the keyword "dating" was used in 1963 unique files which were spread under the name of legitimate apps.

"Notably, two-thirds of them were masking under Tinder (1262 files) and another sixth was linked to Badoo (263 files); both are applications recognized worldwide," said Kaspersky.

Some of these malicious files are Trojans, among others, which can download other types of malware, and send and intercept text messages.

Table from Kaspersky
Table from Kaspersky

Kaspersky also warned those who were seeking romance online to avoid phishing attempts from cybercriminals.

"Fake copies of popular dating applications and websites, such as Match.com and Tinder, flood the internet."

"Users are required to leave their personal data or connect to the applications via their social media account. The result is not surprising: the data will later be used or sold by cybercriminals, while the user will be left with nothing," it explained.

For instance, a phishing website operating under the guise of Tinder encouraged users to register and find dates.

According to recent data from the global cybersecurity company, the number of clicks on the phishing version of niche dating website PeopleMedia grew more than two-fold a month before the Day of Hearts.

Graph from Kaspersky
Graph from Kaspersky

"Online dating has made our lives easier and yet uncovered new risks on the path to love. We advise users to stay attentive and use legal versions of applications that are available in official application stores," said Vladimir Kuskov, head of the Kaspersky Advanced Threat Research and Software Classification.

Even with the presence of these cyber threats, Kaspersky said that dating app users can avoid falling prey to cybercriminals by following these tips:

1. Don't install applications from untrusted sources, even if they are always advertised.

2. Block the installation of programs from unknown sources.

3. Check the reputation and user feedback of the dating website one is planning to visit.

4. Use reliable security solutions that offer advanced protection on PCs and mobile devices.

Kaspersky added that to safely use dating apps, one must refrain from sharing too much personal information and make sure that the person he or she is meeting is real. —Angelica Y. Yang/MGP, GMA News

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