How to Use Zoosk Without Paying a Cent
How to Protect Your Information After a Dating Site Hack
By: Hunt Ethridge
Well, it’s happened again. An adult-oriented dating/hookup site was hacked, and over 412 million accounts have been leaked. The data taken during the leaks include email addresses and usernames, which scammers can then use for future phishing attacks. Included in the attacks were 15 million deleted user profiles that were still kept on company servers. In fact, anyone who has used a list of the following websites in the last 20 years could be at risk:
- AdultFriendFinder.com - 3.4 million users affected
- Cams.com - 62.7 million users
- Penthouse.com - 7.12 million users
- Stripshow.com - 1.4 million users
- iCams.com - 1.14 million users If you have used these sites, it is recommended that you immediately change your password(s).
As well, beware of any suspicious emails you might receive asking for more of your personal info even if it appears to be coming from an official site. On that note, let’s go over some of the basics of cybersecurity so that you can better protect yourself from other hacks or general embarrassment.
Yes, these privacy policies are dense and long. One of the major reasons for that is to discourage you from reading them too closely. But if you truly want to protect yourself, you need to know what you’re agreeing to. Here’s an example from one “dating” site:
"The purpose of our creating these profiles is to provide our registered users with entertainment, to all registered users to explore our service and to promote greater participation in our service. The messages they send are computer generated. Messages from the user profiles we create attempt to simulate conversations so that should you become a paid member you are encouraged to participate in conversation and to increase participation among fellow paid members."
So, they are blatantly telling you that they create fake profiles to try and get you to subscribe. Later in the policy, it says that they will distribute your data to all of their sister sites. So, you may sign up for FrenchMaidDating and discover years later that your name, picture, and profile are on SwingingCouples.
Don’t Skimp on Your Password
Yes, we all have too many passwords to remember, but that’s no excuse for making rookie password mistakes. “Change your passwords frequently,” advises Suzanne Cederbaum of MAD Security. “Use uppercase and lowercase letters, symbols, and numbers in every password you make. You may be thinking, ‘How could I possibly remember a password like that?’ One trick is to use symbols that look like letters. For example, use a 3 instead of an E or $ instead of an S. Do not duplicate your passwords! You have heard this a million times, and I am sure you still will for some sites, but at least create original passwords for your email, banking, credit card accounts, and any other accounts that handle your sensitive data. And if you have trouble remembering your passwords, use a password manager, such as Last Pass.”
Make Sure You Use the Right Email Account
This shouldn’t need to be said, but don’t use your work email for personal business, especially if it’s salacious! In the AshleyMadison hack, there were millions of legitimate-looking work emails. There were also 15,000 .gov addresses as well as many from the military and even the Vatican. You don’t want your IT department or your boss knowing your BDSM preferences. As well, if you’re joining a site that you’d rather keep private, set up a dedicated email address just for that. That way, you can keep your worlds separated.
Keep Private Information Private
Communicating and sharing are great when you’re talking to someone who you met online. And for the most part, everyone else is there to meet and share as well. However, even though the scammers make up a small minority, there’s no reason to share super-specific things. For instance, don’t share the name of your pet, your mailing address, or your date of birth. This information can be used to figure out your password or to find more information to effectively steal your identity.
Look for at Least 2-Step Verification
Most legitimate sites will ask for at least an email verification to make sure that you are using a registered email address. This will ensure that the vast majority of users are real and can prevent catphishing. For example, if you register for a Gmail address, you can visit https://www.google.com/landing/2step/ to set up 2-step verification.
Use Common Sense
People will be people, so this one is sometimes the hardest to follow. For starters, keep your PC firewall on at all times. Second, avoiding using public Wi-Fi networks, even at your local coffee shop. Yes, this is a tough one for a lot of people, but even amateur hackers can easily infiltrate your information on these networks. It’s better to use your own smartphone as a hot spot when you’re on the go. At the end of the day, nothing is for certain, and no site is unbreakable. Be proactive about your security online, and be careful on those adults-only dating sites (or any dating site for that matter). You never know what digital threats are lurking around that corner.
If you’re ready to play it safe in your search for love, check out our reviews of the top dating sites.