Online dating is big business, according to the recently released Norton Mobile Survey, dating-based social networking is rapidly becoming the norm in India with about 38 percent of consumers admitting to have used online dating apps at some point in their lives. In fact, currently, eight percent of women and 13 percent of men in India have dating apps on their mobile devices. Clearly, online dating is a thriving industry, so it should come as no surprise that it is also on the radar for cybercriminals.
Conducted among 1,005 Indian smartphone and tablet users aged 16 years and above, the Norton Mobile Survey reveals that all is not rosy for Indians who take to dating apps in search of a romantic relationship, as a staggering three in five online daters (59 percent) have ever experienced security problems on their mobile devices.
Of those who admitted to have used online dating, close to 64 percent women had experienced security problems as opposed to 57 percent of men. The most concerning security issues reported include virus/malware (23 percent), nuisance advertisements (13 percent), cyberstalking (nine percent), being tricked into using premium services (nine percent), identity theft (six percent) and revenge porn (four percent). In fact, six percent respondents also experienced a threat to their mWallets due to usage of dating apps.
Life in a Metro: Online Dating and Related Threats
According to the survey results, online dating apps were most likely to have been used at least once by people in Delhi (51 percent), followed by Chennai (39 percent), Kolkata (36 percent), Mumbai (35 percent) and Ahmedabad (35 percent). Ironically, while consumers in Chennai (20 percent) and Hyderabad (21 percent) find online dating low risk, they have reported experiencing most security problems, 68 percent and 69 percent respectively.
“There is a general lack of security awareness amongst consumers when it comes to online dating on mobile devices. While there are many legitimate daters on these apps, considering the anonymity, online daters can run the risk of becoming a victim of stalking, harassment, catfishing, identity theft, and even phishing scams,” said Ritesh Chopra, Country Manager, India, Norton by Symantec “The solution is not to panic, nor is it to stop using the apps. Online dating on mobile devices isn’t going away but there are some simple, best practices Indians can adopt to keep themselves, their devices and mobile apps secure.”
Tips While Using Online Dating On Your Mobile Devices:
Profile Do’s and Don’ts: Create a username that you have not used on any other accounts. Your username can be searched, and anything tied to that username can come up easily.
The same applies for the photos you post on your profile. A user can do a reverse image search and easily locate other websites where that photo is posted.
Set up a free email account to use with your dating account that has a unique name. Most sites offer their own in-site messaging that protects the anonymity of their members; however, people will often move their conversations to email or telephone as they get friendlier online.
Join a paid site. Since members have to pay to communicate with each other, this means that there will be more legitimate daters and less scammers. Some of the paid sites also conduct criminal background screenings.
· In case you suspect cyberstalking or catfishing, do not respond to the perpetrator. Keep all records and evidence of the harassment by making a copy of the message, photo or video and report it to the relevant authorities immediately.
· Keeping your phone or tablet’s software updated is important, as is the case with your computer. If your mobile device isn’t regularly updated, it’s vulnerable to threats. You’ll also want to review your security settings on your device and make adjustments as needed.
· Use a reputable mobile security solution such as Norton Mobile Security, which proactively stops you from downloading unsavory Android apps that steal your personal data, drain your data plan, or force intrusive ads on people.
How to spot online dating scams: An individual may contact you with a sob story, about being stranded in a foreign country, or a sudden family emergency. If they ask you for money, you should report them to the service you are using and then block them.
To help verify the identity of the person that you’re talking to, ask for a recent photo. If they protest or makes excuses as to why they can’t provide a photo, it is best to err on the side of caution.
If you’ve been chatting up a potential sweetheart for a while, and they continually put off meeting in real life, this could be a red flag.
Don’t visit links sent to you by people you haven’t talked to for very long. Scammers will pose as a member and try to get their target to click on links, usually leading to porn or webcam sites, and sometimes can even lead to malicious sites that download malware onto your computer.
If someone requests a webcam chat, be especially careful about your behavior. The criminal can record the webcam session and they can use it to blackmail you. If the conversation you’re having starts to take an uncomfortable turn, it’s okay to disconnect the chat.
Scammers create fake profiles that are run by programs called bots. Their objective is to get you to click on a link that will lead to either porn, malware or scam you out of credit card information. It’s actually quite easy to spot a bot, as they have a set of predetermined “canned” responses. If you notice that the conversation you’re having seems a bit off, or the person isn’t answering your questions directly, chances are it’s a bot.