Mobile Dating Apps Are Security Threat, IBM Finds

The majority of top Android dating apps found in the Google Play store have security vulnerabilities that could leave users open to hacking, stalking and credit card number theft, security researchers at IBM have found. Enterprises are also vulnerable, as these apps are frequently found on business-owned devices or on personal devices brought in by employees for work.

IBM Security identified medium- to high-severity vulnerabilities on 63 percent, or 26 out of 41, popular dating apps available through Google Play in October of last year. Using IBM's AppScan Mobile Analyzer tool, they found that many apps also granted "a large number of excessive privileges."

"Many consumers use and trust their mobile phones for a variety of applications," said Caleb Barlow, vice president of IBM Security. "It is this trust that gives hackers the opportunity to exploit vulnerabilities like the ones we found in these dating apps....Our research demonstrates that some users may be engaged in a dangerous tradeoff -- with increased sharing resulting in decreased personal security and privacy."

Millions of Dating Apps Users

We contacted an IBM spokeswoman to learn more about the analysis of mobile dating apps. She said IBM would not identify the companies whose apps were studied so those organizations would not be targeted by hackers.

"We don't want to put a bull's-eye on them," she said. After conducting the analysis, IBM also contacted the app providers to let them know about the vulnerabilities it identified so these could be corrected, she added.

Security flaws in mobile dating apps have the potential to affect millions of people. According to a study conducted by Pew Research in late 2013, 11 percent of people in the U.S. -- including 38 percent of those who describe themselves as "single and looking" -- have used a dating site or app.

A study last...

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