Americans spend almost 11 hours per day consuming electronic media, so it’s no surprise that the trend of online dating has taken off as it has. Nearly 50 million people having tried it, generating $1.75 billion in annual revenue. It’s arguably the most informed way to meet a significant other because you’re provided with images, background and details about that person’s preferences upfront. But you may be giving more away than you might think, allowing yourself to become the target of savvy hackers looking to take advantage of your online identity.
AVG Product Evangelist, Tony Anscombe, was interviewed by DatingAdvice.com to uncover his recommendations for staying safe while dating online. Here are some of the best tips he provided:
- Google Yourself.
One of the first things that people tend to do when they connect with someone online is Google them. Do your research and figure out what they’ll find. What does your electronic footprint look like?
Put your first and last name, email address and username through a Google search and decide whether you want people to find your MySpace account from 2009. If so, more power to you–throwback photos are fun, right? If not, go through and purge anything you’d prefer not to discuss on the first date.
Next, set up a Google Alert for your name, so that you’ll know the next time something about you enters the public domain. That way no one can share any details about you without your knowledge.
- Separate your private life from your public profile.
Create a separate email account with a unique password to connect with your dating profile–it never hurts to have an escape route if you decide to take a break, or if you find that special someone and no longer wish to hear from other prospective paramours.
You might be surprised to learn that people can use your email address to cross reference your dating profile with other social media accounts. A burner email account will lead any potential stalkers to a dead end, with no way to find your more permanent profiles.
- Don’t broadcast your location online.
You may not intend to share your location when you post a picture, but for someone who knows where to look, that could be exactly what happens. Take a close look at the content of the images in your profile. Did you unknowingly include other hints to your location like street signs or recognizable landmarks? Be cautious about what you’re communicating in images, as well as in text.
Geo-tagging captures your exact whereabouts when you snap a photo. If you then email, text or post that image after posting on Facebook, Instagram, etc., you’re also sending out your GPS coordinates. If you’re not ready to share your home address with someone you met online, be sure to extract that data from any selfies you plan to send.
- Safeguard your bank information.
The most secure option for all online purchases, including your dating profile, is via burner credit cards. That way hackers can’t gain access to your complete banking or credit information. You can pick up a prepaid card at the supermarket or buy a virtual visa online. This way, if the company itself is hacked—as Ashley Madison was in 2015—your banking information won’t be compromised (and, in the case of Ashley Madison, your embarrassment will be saved).
Tony added a tip for anyone using online profiles as well: “Make sure, whatever you’re doing, you’re using different, complex passwords. You don’t want to be the next victim of a data breach.” This counts for your Tinder profile, Facebook page, Snapchat login and everything in between. Don’t let one easy-to-remember password be the downfall of your social life (and real life).
AVG products are here to help secure your online identities and we’re pleased to report that Dating Advice ranked AVG the Number One Antivirus and Security Software for Online Dating.
Check out the full story on DatingAdvice.com!