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Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 17 December 2018

Crazy in love: half of UAE online daters have experienced cyber attacks

Oversharing of personal data on dating sites is leaving people vulnerable to cyber criminals

Fifteen per cent of UAE online daters admitted to sharing their home address online. Getty Images
Fifteen per cent of UAE online daters admitted to sharing their home address online. Getty Images

Online daters are exposed to more cyber threats, with 50 per cent of online daters in the UAE having experienced some form of IT security incident, a new survey has found.

The research from Kaspersky Lab suggests that oversharing on online dating sites could open the door to scammers and cyber criminals.

A quarter of UAE users surveyed admitted to sharing their full name publicly on their dating profile, 15 per cent have shared their home address, 9 per cent have shared details about their work and the same number have shared photos of family members.

Risks include having devices or accounts hacked and being targeted by ransomware, with the percentage of online daters who have suffered online attacks 11 per cent higher than in the general population.

“Users need to exercise caution when it comes to giving away too much about themselves on their public profile or to potential dates – and beyond,” said Andrei Mochola, head of consumer business at Kaspersky Lab.

22 per cent of online dating users in the UAE admit that they give out personal data to matches within minutes or hours of starting a dialogue, putting themselves at risk.

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“Much like you wouldn’t tell a passerby in the street your home address and phone number on first meeting them, users of online dating sites need to take responsibility for the security of their data and not assume that it is secure and untouchable within the site or app. This advice goes far beyond online dating, and internet users should protect themselves and their personal information online no matter where they are,” said Mr Mochola

Almost 800 cyber crime cases were handled by Abu Dhabi police last year. Dubai Police registered 83 offences of "electronic extortion" between January and October 2017, up from 87 for the whole of 2016 and 80 in 2015.