Love Is in the Air, and So Are Security Threats

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It may be the most romantic day of the year, but that hasn’t lessened any of the security risks for online shoppers and dating app users, according to recent findings.

Firstly, NetNames, a specialist in online brand protection, has warned online perfume-buyers that well-known brands such as Ralph Lauren, Paco Robanne and Coco Chanel are being targeted by counterfeiters. 

In the run up to Valentine’s Day, many people across the country would have been scouring the web looking for the best deals on their loved-ones’ favorite scent. However, NetNames has identified that large quantities of suspected fake, and possibly harmful, perfumes are available for purchase on sites such as eBay and Gumtree.

Gary McIlraith, CEO of NetNames, said:

“High-end counterfeit products like fake perfumes are a particularly serious problem for brands. When a fake is sold at an unrealistically low price, the consumer knows that it is likely to be an illegitimate product. However, when a product is being sold at only a marginal discount, the consumer often mistakes it for the real thing – this is when poor quality knock-off goods become associated with a brand. The resulting reputational damage can be hard to reverse and many established brands have struggled to recover from the effects of sophisticated fakes trading under their brand name.”

“Therefore, luxury brands and online retailers must safeguard genuine online traffic and guide their customers to legitimate market sources in order to protect their reputation, grow sales, and most importantly, ensure the satisfaction of a loyal customer base.”

Moving away from counterfeit products and onto data/file sharing, Intel Security have exposed some worrying statistics about the behavior of Brits on dating apps. At this time of the year emotions can be running high; after all we are a nation of lovers, but we also appear to be a nation of over-sharers and we need to be more mindful of what information we are sharing on sites that have thousands of (often anonymous) users.

In a survey of 1000 people, 39% of respondents admitted to sharing intimate photos with someone before even meeting them in person.

More worryingly, 38% of people share their email address on their dating profile, which can be viewed by anyone registered to the site, regardless of whether they are a mutual ‘match’ or not. Interestingly, younger users (18 to 24 year olds) are the most clued-up regarding this, with only 23% sharing this data compared to 46% of 25 to 34 year olds and 41% of 35 to 41 year olds. However, younger users are the worst culprits when it comes to sharing their social media accounts.

The survey also revealed that a third (33%) of people aren’t even aware what permissions they have granted their apps, with almost three-quarters (74%) admitting to allowing their chosen app to access their location.

Chester Wisniewski, Senior Security Advisor, Sophos told Infosecurity:

“The biggest problem isn't the data we choose to share, it is what we are inadvertently sharing without our knowledge. App permissions in particular are difficult to manage, and even more difficult to decipher for most people.

“One practice that can help remind you what you are sharing is not to use an app to begin with. Use the mobile browser on your smart device so that you explicitly have to decide to share personal information, contacts, phone data, location and other information. It is slightly less convenient, but a good checkpoint to remind you of how much information you are putting out there. It isn't for us to judge what information is appropriate or safe to share, but rather that the person sharing has knowledge and control of that sharing.”

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