Careful! That dating app might lead to more than heartbreak

Illustration: Surajit Patro

Illustration: Surajit Patro  

Nearly 2,000 malicious files imitating popular apps uploaded to stores: study

Your search for a soulmate on online dating apps might actually be harming you in ways you don’t even realise. A recent study by Kaspersky has found that close to 2,000 malicious files were uploaded to app stores last year with the same names and logos as popular dating apps, with a majority of them masquerading as Tinder, which is among the most popular.

The report, which was released on Thursday, said Kasperky analysed malware using the names of more than 20 popular dating applications and the keyword ‘dating’ for 2019.

“The study showed that 1,963 unique files were spread in 2019 under the guise of legitimate applications. Notably, 1,262 of these were masking under Tinder and 263 files as Badoo, both of which are recognised worldwide,” a statement from Kaspersky said.

Cyber crime officials said malicious files can be programmed to do anything, from stealing sensitive data on the identity or financial details of the victim, to bombarding their devices with advertisements. “For instance, one of the applications that at first glance looks like Tinder is in fact a banking Trojan that constantly requests accessibility service rights, and upon getting them, grants itself all rights necessary to steal money from the user. Another names itself as ‘Settings’ right after installation, shows a fake ‘error’ message and later disappears, with a high likelihood it will return with unwanted ads a few days later,” the report said.

The revelation comes days after The Hindu reported that 98% of a huge stash of credit and debit card details put up for sale on the dark net belonged to Indians. The data packet was uploaded to Joker’s Stash, an underground portal for sensitive data, on February 5, as per a report by Singapore-based cyber security firm Group-IB.

As most dating apps require the user to enter at least some personal information for verification purposes, submitting such details to these malicious files also gives rise to data theft rackets. Cyber crime agencies across the world have for a long time been tracking the sale of huge packets of data on the dark net.

“Love is one of those topics that interest people universally, and, of course, that means that cyber criminals are also there. Online dating has made our lives easier and yet uncovered new risks on the path to love. We advise users to stay attentive and use legal versions of applications that are available in official application stores,” Vladimir Kuskov, head of advanced threat research and software classification at Kaspersky, said.

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Printable version | Feb 23, 2020 1:43:04 PM |

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