Panda Security Presents 3 Simple Tips to Stay Safe this Valentine's Day
Article by George Norman
On 13 Feb 2017
While Valentine’s Day is all about love, romance, and candy-shaped chocolate, it’s also a great opportunity for all the scammers and cybercriminals that lurk online. With that in mind, Spanish security company Panda Security put together a list of 3 simple rules that will help you stay safe on Valentine’s (and pretty much every other) Day.

Please note that Panda Security’s tips apply to online dating, which is the second most popular way for people to find love according to the Association for Psychological Research. Without any further ado, here’s what Panda Security says you should do to stay safe while looking for love online.

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1. Be careful when sharing personal information online

It is a well-known fact that personal information is valuable and, because of that, cybercriminals will try to get their hands on it so they can exploit if for their nefarious purposes. The thing that you have to keep in mind is this: sharing too much personal upfront might land you in trouble. Instead of posting your personal info online for the whole world to see, use the communications tools provided by the dating service to share that info. And make sure to share it with someone you’re sure is trustworthy!

2. That attachment might be malware, so don’t download it

Before you get excited about that Valentine’s Day eCard you got in your inbox, take the time to consider that I might be malware. The bad guys frequently attach malware to emails and then try to trick you into downloading it. Panda Security advises against downloading attachments and says that you should never download eCards from dubious websites.

3. Be wary of anyone who asks for money

As mentioned above, you should take care when sharing personal information online. This includes bank details! Even if you think you’ve found "the one" and you think you’re deeply in love, you should never give your bank details to anyone online. You might be giving them to a scammer who will empty your bank account.

Furthermore, you should be wary of anyone who asks for money. The most likely scenario goes something like this: you meet someone online and they say they want to meet; but because they’re someplace far away, you should pay for the trip. Be careful, because this might be a phishing scam meant to trick you out of your hard earned money.


TL;DR? Watch this video!




Quick Recap
  • Don't share confidential information or sensitive images.
  • Don't download content from sites with a dubious reputation.
  • Don't transfer money to unidentified individuals.
"It's always hard to remain objective when you are falling in love, and that’s why criminals target dating sites," says Panda Security. "The good news is that by keeping personal information private, avoiding suspicious email attachments, and not sharing your bank details, you have everything in place for when you do find 'the one'."


Bonus security tips

Be cautious when things move too fast

Some relationships develop faster than others and some people even fall in love at first sight. But if you’ve been chatting with someone online for a few days and they already claim to be in love with you, there’s reason to be suspicious. Nobody falls in love that fast and if they say they do, it’s a huge red flag.

Report and block harassers

Aside from scammers and cybercriminals, the web is full of trolls and abusers. If you’re lucky, and I truly hope you are, then you won’t run into any bad people. If you’re not that lucky, then you need to know that you don’t have to put up with the abuse and harassment. Online dating sites let you report and block abusers, so use this option whenever needed!

Pick a safe place for your first meeting

Meeting someone for the first time might be the riskiest part of the whole online dating process. What you’re advised to do is to meet in a public place where there are lots of people around, people who could come to your aid should something happen. I’m not saying that something will happen, but it’s best to be prepared. Speaking of which, you should tell a family member or a friend where you’re going for your first date.

Don’t share passwords with your partner

McAfee, part of Intel Security, recently commissioned a survey to try and find out how online behavior affects today's connected relationships. While the survey uncovered that "our devices have become the 'other (wo)man' in the relationship," it also uncovered that nearly 30% of couples share passwords to social media accounts, 28% share passwords to personal email accounts, and more than 20% share their work-specific devices and accounts with their significant other.

Sharing passwords (and other sensitive information) is never a good idea and proof comes from an older McAfee study called "Love, Relationships, and Technology: When Private Data Gets Stuck in the Middle of a Breakup." According to this study, when a relationship falls apart, a spiteful partner might use the sensitive information you shared with them to engage in revengeful acts.

“People need to be more informed about the consequences of sharing so much private information with their partners. Sharing passwords with your partner might seem harmless, but it could and often does result in critical personal information falling into the wrong hands and landing on a public platform for all to see,” explained Robert Siciliano, Online Safety Expert for Intel Security.

Don’t fall for a chatbot

Back in 2015, when Ashley Madison was hacked, it came to light that there were tens of thousands of female bots on the online dating website. There’s nothing pleasant about wasting time on a chatbot. So take a look at this infographic and learn how to spot one.


In related news...

Dating has changed a lot and I’m sure it will continue to change in the future. We might go on dates using virtual reality (VR) technology, use real-time artificial intelligence to avoid awkward conversations, and more.

Check out this infographic to see 8 ways that dating may look different in 2040.




Tags: security, Panda Security, Valentine's Day, online dating, scam, phishing,
About the author: George Norman
George is a news editor.
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