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Online dating accounts subjected to heartbreaking hacks

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Ahead of Valentine’s Day this weekend, a survey has revealed that 18 per cent of people who use dating apps have had their accounts hacked, with 16-25 year olds especially vulnerable to the practice.

In a survey conducted by anti-virus company McAfee, 65 per cent of Brits have increased their online social activities in the last year, including online dating, following the advent of Covid 19-induced lockdowns.

Some 86 per cent of respondents said they don’t feel secure dating online, with 60 per cent saying they are aware that the information and images they share on social media could be used against them.

Fake dating profiles were also cited as an area of concern, with 30 per cent of men surveyed saying they had encountered a fake dating profile online.

Of those surveyed who said they have been hacked, around two in five said they were subject to emotional blackmail as a result, while 27 per cent said they were extorted for money and 23 per cent said they had their identity stolen.

Raj Samani, chief scientist of McAfee, said people should think more carefully about the information they share online, particularly on dating platforms.

“Every day, people leave streams of information about themselves online without considering the risks that their digital footprint can bring,” he said. “Our research shows just how easy it is for someone to find personal, sensitive information about someone else online, some of which could be used to the person’s detriment.

“If this information gets into the wrong hands, it can be used to paint a detailed picture of someone and offer direct access into their lives. This data gives a glimpse at the scary repercussions of sharing too much information online can have, if it ends up in the wrong hands, and the consequences can be even worse if it ends up in the hands of online criminals.

“Restricting who’s able to view personal information, such as your date of birth, or photos of yourself or your home, will help ensure that only people you know and trust are able to access details which can put your identity at risk and be used by online criminals to conduct fraudulent activity.”

In addition to dating apps, nearly all respondents admitted to searching for a date or ex-partner on social media or Google search. 69 per cent admitted they had snooped on their potential love interest or current partner’s social media, with a further 29 per cent using Google searches to check on a potential date.

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