Dating Apps Leaking Data: Should You Be Worried?

Most people use dating apps to find the love of their life or at least Mr. or Ms. Right-Now. But, in addition to letting you find love, dating apps may also be responsible for considerable data leaks. This is according to a Pen Test Partners report.

According to the report, some of the most common dating apps leaking data include popular apps like Recon, Romeo, Grindr and 3Fun. The type of data leaked includes sensitive information that most users would deem very important and private.

What Was Compromised?

According to experts, some of the dating apps leaking data include Recon, Romeo, and Grindr. Some of the data leaked includes user location details. With 3Fun leaking the data of more than 10 million users around the world.

Hackers could use this information to track a user’s location and find out what time you drive home from work and what route you use. It could really compromise users’ safety and privacy, hence it’s a major cause for concern.

Plus, all someone needs is your username to find your location and track where you are at any time.

Not only that, but 3Fun is apparently sharing sensitive user data. This includes pictures, sexual preferences, date of birth and even chat information.

How Did They Find This Security Flaw?

Researchers found that all it took was a triangulation strategy to find someone’s location details. This strategy includes a study of the altitude, latitudes and longitudes. It gives the person searching information on the distance it takes to reach you from various points and they could actually guess your accurate location.

How Does This Affect Dating App Users?

grindr

The type of data that’s leaked could be related to the user’s location or it could be other sensitive data that could make you vulnerable to attacks if it gets into the wrong hands.

For instance, a cybercriminal could steal your identity or someone could stalk you from getting your location details online. Not to mention what the leakage of personal data could do to your reputation. Let’s say you live in a conservative country and someone finds and leaks data about your sexual preferences. This could get you into a lot of trouble.

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What is the Response from Dating Apps?

According to recent reports, Recon has since taken measures to hide user information such as location details to protect members from exploitation. 

The company clearly realizes that putting accurate user location information out there is a risk that could prevent people from signing up to their service in the future. Instead, Recon is now using a snap-to-grid method to keep user location information and private data a secret

Members also have the option to hide certain details from their profiles, such as location distance.

Grindr has done something similar by hiding location data for users in countries where being a member of the LGBTQ community is illegal or dangerous. But, you can still see user location data for members in the UK.  

The app still allows users to pinpoint their location or fix it to a particular part of the map which makes it difficult to find them. However, this isn’t exactly a part of the app’s ‘default’ settings.

There’s also a “stealth mode” option which allows users to appear as though they’re offline. The best part is that Grindr offers free Plus membership to users in countries that still criminalize homosexuality.

find love map

Another gay social app known as Scruff confessed that it also uses a location-scrambling algorithm to protect its users. It’s available on the app settings menu and allows users to effectively hide their location.

Similarly, the Hornet app makes sure that all of its users are part of a single grid which makes it impossible to track individual user locations. There’s also an option in their settings menu which enables members to hide their location distance.

Conclusion

The sad news is that even after disabling your location, there are other methods that someone can use to find you.

Most gay dating apps place all of their users in a central grid to help users find the nearest date. According to a 2016 report, you can easily pinpoint someone’s location by creating fake profiles to track him or her down.

So far, only the Hornet app has taken measures to mitigate this risk. Seeing that dating apps leaking data is becoming a growing issue, one of the best ways to prevent this type of attack is to always use a high-quality VPN when using dating apps and other online functions.

We highly recommend IPVanish for its ability to hide your location and protect your identity and privacy.

What are your thoughts on dating apps leaking data? Let us know in the comments section below.

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