Dating Site Members Beware

I am excited to share this with you that I spoke on a weekly program recently called “Coffee Break With Sabra” about an issue of great importance affecting you and the information that is online about you.

BRAINLINK-2015-FEB-BrainSTORM_COLOR_1dDuring my interview you will learn:

  • About the danger of dating sites (and it’s not what you think)
  • What they don’t want you to know about dating sites
  • What you can do to protect yourself (and your future offspring)

Sabra: Welcome to the Coffee Break with Sabra where we answer burning questions, the questions you didn’t ask, didn’t know to ask, or were afraid to ask, we ask them for you. Each week we bring you another 20 minutes so you can get your answers and get back to having a productive and fabulous day. Today, we are here with Raj Goel. He’s the founder and CEO of BrainLink, a New York City based IT consulting firm. He’s also an author, entrepreneur, an IT expert, and a public speaker. Raj Goel is globally known as the go to man in cyber security and privacy law. He’s committed to education individuals and organizations about online safety and how to protect their most important assets, people and data. His expert advice helps individuals, companies, and conglomerates navigate their way through the world’s ever changing technology and increasingly complex IT compliance laws. He often appears in the media and at conferences worldwide to educate the public on cyber security and digital privacy, a subject he is passionate about. Welcome to the program Raj.

Raj: Thanks Sabra, good to be here.

Sabra: I am so thrilled to have you here, especially with a bio like that, I feel really… Great to have you on my program. And I know that today you are talking on a really pertinent topic, as you know I work with a lot of people and individuals and you’re talking about dating. And specifically your topic today is dating sites, members beware. So I thought it’d be a great thing to bring to the public and have someone like you talk about what’s going on with dating sites and from you’re perspective what are some of the dangers. A lot of people are on these things. Millions and millions of people to very big industry, and a lot of money involved as well. So I’d like to hear your perspective and what you could share.

Raj: Yes, it’s a fast-growing industry and from my perspective as a security researcher and a privacy activist, and somebody who works with the corporations around New York City and helping them address their security and privacy threats. Dating sites, as they attack a researcher they’re a great way for me to go and get data on people that you don’t get otherwise. Some of these corporate bio on their website, you look at LinkedIn. You get a very clean, almost antiseptic view of who they are. When you go to the dating sites, you learn so many things about them including stuff that they probably never even revealed on Facebook. What they like to drink their sexual activities, restaurants, you get a complete profile of the person. On the attack side, it’s a great way to go and get information on a person. And then it gives us social engineering or other attack vectors. On the defense side, what I find frightening about dating sites is people reveal so much. And once they’re in a relationship, or they pull up the account [Unintelligible 00:03:05] or they stop paying the dues, the information never goes away. The second more [Unknown word 00:03:11] danger with dating sites is if you’ll notice 10-15 years ago there’s one or two, now there are thousands around the world, each one claiming tens of millions of members. Most people joined between 1 and 5 dating sites when they’re actively looking, but in reality your data will be on several hundreds to several thousand dating sites around the world, because every dating site start-up either buys, steals, or sucks in the data from other dating sites to bulk their member portfolio. If you look on television, especially in the evenings and late nights, almost every other commercial is for a dating site. They all claim millions of members. If you actually do some analysis you’ll find there’s a lot of overlap because either people join multiple sites or because each site copy content from the others, and if you update something on… Let’s say you’re on Match, and I’m speaking as an example. Let’s say on Match you put in you like chocolate. Great. And then you go and change your mind a few months later, you know what, I really don’t like chocolate I like coffee. I’m speaking a fairly noxious topic because we’re on radio and I don’t want to be nailed by the FCC. So let’s replace coffee and chocolate something a bit more embarrassing or a bit more adult. To me these changes on your primary site. All the other clone sites, or the sites that stole the date or copy data from Match, they’re going up these sites. So we have found numerous cases of executives and business owners being compromised because either they put something out there on their dating sites that they would normally not admit to, or in public, or on LinkedIn, or on the corporate bios, or the people they were dating, or they thought they were having online relationship with weren’t actually the intended partner. Dating sites are going on as almost people have been dating, this pre-dates the internet, pre-dates technology. The male order bride in the 60’s and 70’s they’ve never gone away. The immigration part has never gone away. All the internet has done it has accelerated the speed with which it can scam people, and the number of people you can scam simultaneously.

Sabra: Wow, that’s really scary what you’re telling me all of these things because I myself have used dating sites and it’s the farthest thing from my mind. I’d like to believe that people are honest and they’re wanting the same things. But I think you’re right now that you’re mentioning it and bringing this to the forefront that there are people out there that aren’t trustworthy. And it’s important to be aware of that.

Raj: Not only that, as you said you use dating yourself, we all know friends to have. Did you ever go back and delete your profile on the dating sites once you’re done with site or you got in to a relationship?
Sabra: Highly doubtful.

Raj: Exactly. Most people never think about deleting data once they release it, and the dating sites make it very, very painful, almost impossible. Let me rephrase that. They make it impossible to delete your data. You have to come through a lot of hoops. And so as a result people don’t bother because it’s not in the dating site’s interest to have their membership counts drop. They all brag, “We’ve got 50 million fishes in the sea for you.”

For the complete interview, click here or go to