Tuesday March 26, 2019
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Keeping secrets on internet could be dangerous too!

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By Manas Dwivedi

Internet is nothing less than a revolution that has changed our lives in many ways. Whether it be soothing ourselves in the dining room or ordering a toothsome meal online, internet has everything to offer us. However, heavy dependence on technology has got its own perils, and the same goes for the usage of internet.

The recent Ashley Madison hacking case exemplifies the aforementioned proposition aptly. Ashley Madison, a Canada based online dating service portal, was hacked last month. The entire database of the website was decrypted. Later, the database was made public online.

credit: www.theguardian.com
credit: www.theguardian.com

A popular website among married couples, Ashley Madison coaxes individuals to cheat on their spouses. Its slogan itself says “Life is short. Have an affair.” The home page of Ashley Madison’s website depicts a woman holding a finger to her lips, which focuses on keeping secrets. But unfortunately the portal itself has failed in keep its users’ trust intact.

According to reports, sensitive and personal information of all its 30 million registered users has been made available online by a group of hackers called The Impact Team. The incident is turning out to be a horrific nightmare for those who trusted the website for full filling their dating fantasies and desires.

credit: www.ibtimes.com
credit: www.ibtimes.com

According to a recent data, around 651 dating scams have been reported in the last three months. In a similar instance, a major online dating portal, AdultFriendFinder fell prey to hackers and confidential details of around 3 million users were stolen. The dating service reportedly has 64 million members, which claims to help people in finding partners. The database not only included the basic information but also carried secret information of users having extra-marital affairs. The hack was planned and executed by the notorious dark web hacking forum ‘Hell’. The data went viral on internet and was easily accessible on social media platforms.

Previously in January 2013, another online dating portal got trapped in such a data breach. Australia based Cupid Media, which runs 35 dating sites- that also includes the famous UkraineDate.com and MilitaryCupid.com- also got exposed. Profile passwords of around 42 million users across the globe were hacked and all the private credentials were exposed. The unknown hackers behind the act later sold the information to a third party.

2d9733988-cupidmedia.nbcnews-ux-2880-1000Such instances take a toll on the lives of the people using such websites owing to the uncalled divulgence of their personal information. Trusting such online portals can really be dangerous wherein one is unaware of the credibility of the website. The hacked data is also misused by a number of people. Often, paparazzi use such covert information to sensationalize issues and target famous personalities.

Experts assume this as a ‘tit for tat’ policy undertaken by the hackers in order to get back at individuals who might have cheated on their spouses.

In the latest case, hackers have blamed Ashley Madison’s parent company, Avid Life Media for being a ‘fraud’ website that endorses men who at times tend to beguile users by pretending to be women. Not only the financial details of the users were exposed, but also they were made to go through situations wherein they were chastised for the fake identity they had taken to.

130206093536-online-dating-scams-tablet-largeThis woeful state of internet security would further get worsened with many more revelations in the future. Lives would be destroyed, marriages would break, many might lose their jobs and others might get badly depressed. This calls for an acute need for efficient cyber protection and a change in behaviours of users trusting internet blindly. It would not be right blaming the technology but trusting it sustainably would be highly appreciated.

The catchy marketing strategies endorsed by web-portals like Ashley Madison and AdultFriendFinder often force individuals to take to illicit practices though they wouldn’t really desire to do so; however, one needs to be judicious enough while divulging their personal information. Who might know such incidents could happen to you one day.

Next Story

New AI-based System May Counter Online Dating Frauds

In these scams, fraudsters target users of dating websites and apps, 'groom' them and then ask for gifts of money or loans which will never be returned, they noted

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Artificial Intelligence Bot
Artificial Intelligence Bot. Pixabay

Researchers have developed an Artificial Intelligence (AI)-based system to restrict fake profiles designed to con people on dating apps and websites.

The computing algorithms have been designed specifically to understand what fake dating profiles look like and then to apply this knowledge to scan profiles submitted to online dating services.

The algorithms, part of a wide-ranging research, have the capability to ‘think’ like humans to pinpoint fake profiles, said the researchers, including Tom Sorell, Professor at the University of Warwick in the UK.

“Using AI techniques to help reveal suspicious activity could be a game-changer that makes detection and prevention quicker, easier and more effective, ensuring that people can use dating sites with much more confidence in future,” said Sorell in a statement released on Tuesday by Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), a part of UK Research and Innovation, a non-departmental public body funded by a grant-in-aid from the UK government.

When tested, the research team found that the algorithms produced a very low false-positive rate (the number of genuine profiles mistakenly flagged up as fake) of around 1 per cent.

online-dating
A man uses the dating app Tinder in New Delhi, India. (VOA)

The new algorithms automatically look out for suspicious signs inadvertently included by fraudsters in the demographic information, the images and the self-descriptions that make up profiles, and reach an overall conclusion about the probability of each individual profile being fake.

According to the researchers, the aim is now to further enhance the technique and enable it to start being taken up by dating services within the next couple of years, helping them to prevent profiles being posted by scammers.

Also Read- Andhra Government to Give Free Smartphones to 1.4 Crore Women

With Valentine’s Day approaching, the news that these AI capabilities have the potential to help thwart so-called ‘rom-con’ scams will be very welcome to the millions of people who use online dating services in the UK and worldwide, the researchers said.

In these scams, fraudsters target users of dating websites and apps, ‘groom’ them and then ask for gifts of money or loans which will never be returned, they noted. (IANS)