ThreatMetrix Cites Cybersecurity Concerns of Online Dating – Risky Enough to Make Your Heart Skip a Beat
Posted February 7, 2013
In Advance of Valentine’s Day, ThreatMetrix Offers Tips for Consumers and Commercial Dating Sites to Prevent Fraud and Malware
San Jose, CA –February 6, 2013 – ThreatMetrix™, the fastest-growing provider of integrated cybercrime prevention solutions, today announced several ways for consumers to stay protected from online dating fraud and malware as Valentine’s Day approaches. According to Fast Company, online dating grew to a staggering $4 billion industry in 2012, making the industry a prime target for cybercriminals.
“Unfortunately, the online dating market not only attracts people genuinely looking to meet, it also attracts cybercriminals, both foreign and domestic, who use fake profiles to steal personal and financial information,” said Alisdair Faulkner, chief products officer, ThreatMetrix. “Recognizing the huge profits in online dating, cybercriminals have found several sophisticated ways to target innocent users. To prevent attacks, consumers must be vigilant of the information they share with online suitors, and commercial dating sites should make cybersecurity a top priority by implementing an integrated device identification and malware prevention solution.”
In recent years, cybercrime has become so widespread in the online dating industry that an estimated one in 10 dating profiles are scams, costing victims more than $50 million per year, according to the Internet Crime Complaint Center. To stay protected, ThreatMetrix has identified five of the top cybersecurity threats for consumers to be aware of when looking for love online:
1. Love/Romance Scam – Cybercriminals create fake accounts and in many cases ask online dating matches to wire money so they can meet. For example, a fraudster may say he is in the Philippines and ask the online dating user to send a check or wire money to cover travel costs. The victim in the U.S. sends the scammer a money order or check, only to never hear from the match again.
2. Fake Profiles – Cybercriminals use fake profiles, including photos and descriptions, to gain trust and take advantage of online dating customers. They also share malicious links with their dating matches, which can result in malware being downloaded on the user’s device. These cybercriminals are not seeking their soul mate, but rather seeking substantial information from users with the end goal of compromising credit cards and bank accounts.
3. Mobile Dating – Geo-location on smart phones enables cybercriminals to practically know a user’s exact location at all times. Users must make sure they are not telling online dating matches when they are away from home or out of the country. Cybercriminals can seize this opportunity to rob the person’s house.
4. Credit Card Fraud – Cybercriminals frequently use online dating sites to “test” stolen credit cards. If the card is accepted in the purchase of virtual goods, such as an online dating membership, the criminal will move on to purchasing physical goods like consumer electronics.
5. Identity Theft – Third-party applications downloaded from dating sites may ask users for permission to view their address book or stored contacts, which can lead to more sensitive information being leaked and ultimately, identity theft. Once the application has access to certain information on a device, this opens the door for them to hack personal and financial data saved on the device.
The most effective way for consumers to stay safe when online dating is to use caution and only register for credible dating sites that have sophisticated cybersecurity solutions in place. Online dating sites utilize cybercrime prevention solutions in three key areas: customer authentication when an account is created, transaction authentication at the time of payment and user authentication for log-ins.
By implementing preventative cybercrime measures, dating websites create a safer and more positive user experience and protect the integrity of their brand, where word-of-mouth recommendations and customer satisfaction are the primary drivers for acquiring new customers and retaining existing ones. Avalanche, LLC, a network of eighteen niche online dating sites, which includes Date.com and hosts more than 10 million users worldwide, realizes the severe threats posed by cybercriminals and enlist the help of ThreatMetrix to protect its sites and users.
“On Date.com and our other sites, there are millions of members who trust us to pair them with a compatible match,” said Kris Covino, co-founder and CTO at Avalanche. “The last thing we want is for the integrity of our sites to be compromised by cybercriminals, which is why we turned to ThreatMetrix. My counsel to anyone who dates online is to have fun, but always use common sense. The bottom line is – don’t do anything differently than if you were meeting a stranger face-to-face in the real world.”
ThreatMetrix®, The Digital Identity Company®, is the market-leading cloud solution for authenticating digital personas and transactions on the Internet. Verifying more than 20 billion annual transactions supporting 30,000 websites and 4,000 customers globally through the ThreatMetrix Digital Identity Network®, ThreatMetrix secures businesses and end users against account takeover, payment fraud and fraudulent account registrations resulting from malware and data breaches. Key benefits include an improved customer experience, reduced friction, revenue gain and lower fraud and operational costs. The ThreatMetrix solution is deployed across a variety of industries, including financial services, e-commerce, payments and lending, media, government and insurance.
Walker Sands Communications