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Online daters putting confidential business data at risk, security experts claim

New research from Kaspersky Lab reveals that online dating habits are potentially putting large amounts of confidential business data at risk.

Over half of online daters admit to using the same devices they use for work to carry out their online dating activities, making it easy for cybercriminals to access corporate data through devices that haven’t been adequately safeguarded.

The research also uncovered that many high-level managers appear eager to share work information, with 10 per cent of managers sharing details about their work or trade secrets in the course of their dating lives.

The Kaspersky Lab study into the attitudes of online dating users showed that 11 per cent of the online dating population is made up of business owners or company heads, with a further 20 per cent identifying themselves as mid-level managers.

While only 12 per cent of the entire online dating population share their place of work in their profile, this rises to 22 per cent for heads of business. Further, while 10 per cent of people are ready to share details about their work or trade secrets, this rises to 24 per cent for business owners or company heads.

Moreover, 26 per cent of online daters in general admit to sharing professional information with matches after several days of communication, this again rises for business heads to 38 per cent. This leaves confidential information freely accessible to other online daters and has the potential to result in more serious consequences – such as corporate espionage – if it were to fall into the wrong hands.

Failure to draw a line between work and pleasure was also highlighted in the lax attitude of all research respondents when it comes to looking for love online. Over half (51 per cent) of online daters admit to using the same devices they use for work to carry out their online dating activities, putting corporate documents, emails and even passwords at risk in the process.

The research revealed that 38 per cent of online daters also use their device to store work emails and 33 per cent store files for work use, highlighting how for business owners and employees a potential security breach could have a significant impact on their company.

Also of concern is the finding that only 27 per cent of online daters use a security solution to protect their device and only 33 per cent consciously limit the information they share. 16 per cent do nothing at all to protect themselves because they don’t see a risk - despite Kaspersky's research revealing that 19 per cent of business heads have had their device infected with malware, spyware or ransomware via an online dating platform, while 9 per cent have faced people who used a fake online identity.

“With plenty of business owners and senior business leaders using digital dating services, it is worrying that many seem willing to share sensitive company information” said David Emm, principal security researcher, Kaspersky Lab.

“Business devices need to be protected but, further to this, business owners and senior business leaders need to be vigilant. They must also exercise caution when it comes to giving away too much about themselves or their company on their public profile or to potential dates – and beyond. This advice also goes far beyond online dating; individuals should always protect themselves and their personal information online, no matter where they work and what device they use.”

The Kaspersky Lab research report, “Dangerous Liaisons: is everyone doing it online?”, is available free to read on the Kaspersky website.

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