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Profiles with specific job titles naturally attracted more attention.We also had our fair share of cheesy pickup lines and honest, good people connecting with us, but we never got a targeted attack. Perhaps no campaigns were active on the online dating networks and areas we chose during our research.We also employed a few house rules for our research—play hard to get, but be open-minded: The goal was to familiarize ourselves to the quirks of each online dating network.We also set up profiles that, while looking as genuine as possible, would not overly appeal to normal users but entice attackers based on the profile’s profession.We further explored by setting up “honeyprofiles”, or honeypots in the form of fake accounts.We narrowed the scope of our research down to Tinder, Plenty of Fish, OKCupid, and Jdate, which we selected because of the amount of personal information shown, the kind of interaction that transpires, and the lack of initial fees.
This led to some interesting scenarios: sitting at home at night with our families while casually liking every single new profile in range (yes, we have very understanding partners).
With the ability to locate a target and link them back to a real identity, all the attacker needs to do is to exploit them.
We gauged this by sending messages between our test accounts with links to known bad sites.
Some require a Facebook profile it can connect to, while others just needed an email address to set up an account.
Tinder, for instance, retrieves the user’s information on Facebook and shows this in the Tinder profile without the user’s knowledge.
To bear out the risks, we delved into various online dating networks, which initially included Tinder, Plenty of Fish, Jdate, OKCupid, Grindr, Coffee meets Bagel, and Love Struck.