The next big thing in online dating security
By Austin Distel
Staying safe while online dating is two-fold – protect yourself and protect your personal information. Online dating is perhaps the most personal of the many activities we engage in on the internet as we open ourselves up to strangers online in hopes of finding love, or at least a bit of romance.
While it may be the last thing you’re thinking about when you’re swiping right, online dating and cybersecurity go hand-in-hand, allowing you to find love and stay safe all at once. Whether you’re using a site or a dating app, these tips and trends will leave you better informed about how to minimize the risks associated with online dating.
Cybersecurity in a Nutshell
Cybersecurity, which protects internet-connected systems from digital attacks, can sometimes come across as an abstract concept – something for governments and companies to be concerned about. However, as the internet has proliferated into every aspect of our lives, from paying bills and sharing our lives on social media to shopping and, yes, online dating, personal cybersecurity is also of utmost importance. This means taking an active role in protecting yourself and your personal information online.
Taking your personal cybersecurity seriously is a vital part of defending what you choose to put online from a digital attack. It’s also a key component in online dating and ranges from keeping your security software updated to exercising caution in what personal or identifying information you choose to share on your dating profile.
Cybersecurity Trends for Online Dating
The online dating scam isn’t dead. In fact, the Federal Trade Commission reported that in 2018, romance scams accounted for losses totaling $143 million, with the average person losing $2,600. Individuals using online dating services should be aware of these scams and proceed with due caution if someone they’re connecting with arouses suspicion.
Hackers and scammers have become increasingly creative in finding new ways to siphon not only money but also information off unsuspecting or unprepared businesses and individuals, and this includes online dating sites.
Expect this cybersecurity trend to continue in 2020, with an increase in attacks coming via our mobile phones. Many of us now walk around with a phone as a literal extension of our hands. While it makes life more convenient (at least sometimes), mobile apps and the information we share with them are also a vulnerability.
The last few years have already seen numerous data breaches from various dating apps, collectively exposing the data of millions of users.
On a more positive note, data sovereignty and compliance is a cybersecurity trend on the rise for all the right reasons. The last few years have seen governments developing and implementing legislation that focuses on improved data security and privacy standards to protect individuals.
For those using online dating services, which do ask you to share some amount of personal information, this is a welcome development!
Encryption is another big cybersecurity trend that we expect will only become more prevalent in the coming years. Encryption is a means of preventing data theft by scrambling your data, making it unintelligible to unauthorized users, like hackers.
From an online dating perspective, use sites and apps that encrypt their data as an additional layer of cybersecurity. More online dating sites and apps are expected to adopt encryption in the near future, so this is certainly a trend to look out for.
How to Protect Yourself from Online Dating Scams
Ok, enough scare-mongering – what steps can you take to protect yourself while online dating? We’re happy you asked – here are some important precautions you can take to maximize personal safety and avoid scams and data theft:
Avoid including personal or identifying information on your online dating profile. It’s also a good rule of thumb to avoid using such information on your social media profiles as well. This is important for both the security of your data as well as your personal safety.
Err on the side of anonymity – today it’s easy to track someone down with just a few details, especially if those details, like your name, profession, or location, are posted elsewhere online.
Whether you’ve found someone on an online dating site or a dating app, it can be worthwhile to find out a little bit more background information, particularly if something seems suspicious or if you plan to meet them in person.
If you suspect they may be impersonating someone else, do a quick reverse search of their photos, which will reveal whether they are, in fact, the person in the photo or if they’re using another person’s photos as their own.
To find some more information about a potential date, use a site like Nuwber which allows you to search individuals by name or phone number – another means of identity verification. Lastly, choose a public meeting place for your first date. In today’s world, you can never take your personal safety too seriously.
Keep your personal information secure and give yourself peace of mind by using only trusted and verified sites and apps for online dating. Stay up-to-date on the latest tech news, so if a site or app you’re using is hacked, you can quickly take the necessary precautions to protect your data.
Don’t send money to anyone. Online dating scams typically involve someone claiming to be stationed or working overseas, but best practice is to simply keep your credit card in your wallet. Someone asking for money is a big red flag – if you suspect someone is trying to commit fraud, report them to the site or app you’re using so appropriate action can be taken.
Online dating is meant to be enjoyable and fun, and it is inarguably a great way to meet individuals who you would never cross paths with in everyday life. As online dating apps continue to gain popularity and users, it is important to know how to keep yourself and your personal information safe and secure. Swipe right on cybersecurity to keep your online dating experience safe and fun.