April 14, 2020

The Next Big Thing in Online Dating Security

The new decade just started, and cybersecurity will be one of the fundamental topics that will occupy some of the best minds for some years. The Internet started being that place where we went to when we had any doubts, but now more aspects of our lives take place online and the division between our offline and offline lives is blurry.

It is great that with new technology we find new possibilities to communicate and interact with others. In particular, a plethora of dating apps and platforms have appeared in the past years that have very different target groups and dynamics. Online dating is becoming a more widespread and accepted way of finding relationships.

In the United States, a survey estimated that almost 60% now think that online dating is a good way of looking for partners (in comparison, in 2005 less than 45% used to think it was a good way). According to the Pew Research Center, 30% of adults in the United States have used online dating at least once and 12% have found a long-lasting relationship.

Sadly, this also means that people with bad intentions also find new ways to inflict harm. Online Dating is one of the fields where people are the most exposed when surfing the internet.

When looking for a new partner and influenced by the hope of finding a deep relationship, people tend to be more naïve. For example, in 2019 the FBI convicted 80 people for using online dating services to steal $46 million.

Although there has been a proliferation of scams, this does not mean that one has to give up these new means of finding love, the right amount of precaution and a bit of help from the latest technology in the field of cybersecurity are enough to prevent uncomfortable situations.

Check the Safety of Your Existing Apps

The first step to ensure your safety when dating online is to make some research on how the apps that you use are being misused. In the past years, probably the most popular application for online dating has been Tinder.

No more recent official figure is out, but according to the BBC, in 2018 it was estimated that Tinder was used by 57 million people worldwide. Sadly, the popularity of this application has also made it the perfect place for some misbehaviors.

This interesting article that explains how to delete Tinder, also thoroughly describes the dangers of using the app (for example, catfishing, Tinder bots, phishing). Knowing how people misuse the app will help you identify possible threats. Whenever you detect some weird behavior, you will know how to react.

Some extra safety measures that will help you stay safe include:

– Video chat before meeting. If someone is not willing to let him or her see her in real-time, this is usually a sign that something is fishy.

– Meet up in a public place for the first date.

– Do not give too much personal information at the beginning

Use only Reputable Online Application Apps with the Latest Security Technology

Every application has a great interest to keep its platform free from scams. This is very good news because it promotes very interesting research in the field of cybersecurity. In the field of cybersecurity, there are very promising research avenues that online dating apps could use to help their users stay safe

– Hardware authentication

A good system of authentication is a key way in which an app or a platform can help provide transparency and promote trust within its users. By knowing that you, or at least the people responsible for the app, have a way of finding out the real identity of the person, security is promoted. People that would like to misuse the app are deterred. A good authentication has three components: a username (the who), a password (the what to know) and a token (something unique to have). The authentication is precisely the latter.

Although the idea is not new, some of the most innovative ways in which more secure authentication is being developed plans to build it into the user’s hardware. For example, Intel is developing the idea with its sixth-generation Core vPro processor in which the validation of a user’s identity would work through hardware-enhanced factors. In the past year, several new patents in this direction show some promising developments. For example, some consider ways of including biometric security checks.

– Machine Learning and Deep Learning

Machine Learning consists of a series of methods that are revolutionizing a multiplicity of applications and fields. Although it might sound a bit paradoxical, they consist of finding ways of “teaching” machines to find patterns so they can be able to use past information to predict or label new cases.

To make it more tangible, an example of a machine learning application would be an algorithm that can label which objects are included in an image. Data scientists would feed the machine with a data set that is “labeled” (i.e. where the machine has the answers of which objects are included in each image) and a set of “features” or characteristics that the computer can use to analyze the image and make predictions.

These new methods, a lot of them inspired on the functioning of the brain, are making astounding progress and are delivering predictions that are better than humans.

Just as machines can be taught to identify objects in images, drive cars, or play games better than humans, interesting applications could help online dating apps analyze behavioral data in which weird or dangerous behavior is spotted in real-time.

Although a person would not be able to notice it, anomalous conduct differentiates from normal behavior in patterns. A machine learning algorithm that anonymously analyzes the conversation and behavior between people could help send alerts when something weird is spotted.

Some conclusions about security in online dating

The world of online dating is here to stay. Although at the beginning there seemed to be a certain stigma around it, it is now a completely accepted and celebrated way to find love. Just like any other successful technology, this means that it has to overcome some challenges.

In particular, being a field in which people tend to be naïve and trust others (what is a relationship without trust?), developments in security are very valuable. The next decade will be especially exciting in the field of cybersecurity. Exciting new applications like hardware authentication and the usage of machine learning algorithms to sport fishy behavior will be a big part of this development.

About the author 

Imran Uddin

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