What You Need to Know After The AdultFriendFinder Hack Scandal
Have you dabbled in any online dating action in the past few months? No? Well, what about the past 20 years? That’s what millions of people are probably asking their nearest and dearest as the AdultFriendFinder scandal has uncovered over 412 million email addresses and private data from the past two decades. While, of course, there’s nothing illicit about using online dating, the breach uncovered personal information including purchasing information and passwords from around 5.2 million UK users. As well as this, AdultFriendFinder is known far and wide as one of the world’s biggest sex hookup sites, so we’re sure users would prefer this kind of info to have remained private. As this scandal has released even more private info, and ruffled even more feathers than last years Ashley Madison scandal , here’s what you can do to keep yourself and your data safe when online dating.
Steer clear of Password!
You won’t find an online dating site which doesn’t ask you to choose a strong password when you’re signing up with the help of your email address. Our top tip is as well as a strong password, to choose a completely unique password which isn’t used elsewhere, so that even in the worst-case scenario, none of your other accounts online are compromised. You don’t have to choose a totally new email address unless you want to, but try not to use your work address, especially if you are employed in the public sector such as at a school or a hospital, as this could cause problems for colleagues, too. We love sites like Cupid where you can sign up using social media. While you’ll never see anyone post on your behalf, this links your accounts, proves you are who you say you are, and gives very little info to be disclosed if there ever is a data dump. Your financial information is probably the area you want to keep safest, and this can be helped by paying with a PayPal account where possible such as with EliteSingles. You can also usually pay by cheque or mail order in the post in case you would prefer to keep financial transactions fully offline.
Is There Anyone Out There?
It’s not just data breaches to look out for. While the vast majority of online dating users are looking for dating and romance, you can’t ignore the few who have an ulterior motive. Social media verification is just one of the ways you can keep yourself safe online. Many websites such as Zoosk have creative and fun ways to show you are exactly who you say you are. Zoosk offer a unique video verification tool. Simply use the app to upload a ‘seven second selfie’ video of yourself. Human moderators will compare this video to your photos, et voila! You will be marked as verified. If at any point you aren’t sure that the person you are speaking to is being honest with you, most online dating sites will have an option to block the member and report them to admin or moderators. Some go above and beyond and provide 24/7 moderators via live chat with the support of Online Dating Protector. If you’re the cautious type, you can also try out a dating website which has Incognito mode or Private browsing. match.com has a private mode which lets you selectively hide or show your profile to other members. This is a great way to dip your toe into chatting to new people without feeling inundated by matches who you aren’t comfortable talking with yet.
Practise Safe Speech
With all the great ways to chat and flirt on online dating sites, you can forget how little you know the person on the other side of the screen. Especially on a site like POF, where there are over 3 million daily active users as well as totally free chat, you need to be a bit wary about your initial conversations. Never disclose information which is financial, or too specific such as your exact home address. The tools on online dating sites are created so you can make a soft landing when meeting a new person. Try starting with an inbox message, moving slowly through instant chat to audio or video chat, before making an offline meet somewhere public when you feel ready. eHarmony offer a SecureCall system which gives you the chance to mask your phone number and talk to your matches until you are ready to give out your own number.
Users asking for financial information or who are unwilling to chat via cam or share a photo are clear signs to tread carefully. But there are less obvious signs, as well. One example is when the dating site contacts you directly. If you get an email from the site asking you to confirm your personal account info, make sure not to click any internal links. Instead, open up a new internet browser and go straight to the site itself. You can also use the contact page to get in touch and make sure the request was legitimate. Trust your gut. If something makes you feel uncomfortable, your instincts may be correct. Stop, think, and contact the site admin. Lastly, over 15 million accounts which had been previously deleted from the AdultFriendFinder server were among the leaked data which spanned over 20 years. Most dating sites will allow you to remove your info from the database if you send them an email requesting it, but many users never think to do that when they leave. Online dating is now the most popular way to find hookups and casual fun as well as long-term relationships. Just make sure the fun isn’t too short-lived by protecting yourself and your private data, too.