Online daters overshare professional info

Sibahle Malinga
By Sibahle Malinga, ITWeb senior news journalist.
Johannesburg, 05 Dec 2017
Around18% of online daters admit to sharing professional information online.
Around18% of online daters admit to sharing professional information online.

Business owners and employees using online dating sites could be unwittingly putting their companies at risk, with many of them divulging company secrets when chatting to matches.

This is according to Kaspersky Lab's research report titled, Dangerous Liaisons: is everyone doing it online?. The report, which looks into the attitudes of users of online dating sites, reveals online dating habits are potentially putting large amounts of confidential business data at risk.

The online survey was conducted globally by Kaspersky Lab in partnership with research firm B2B International in August 2017. Around 21 081 participants from 32 countries participated in the survey, with 500 being from SA.

"Around 15% of the surveyed online dating population locally was made up of business owners or company heads, with 18% identifying themselves as mid-level managers. High-level managers appear more eager to share work information. Around 13% of the online dating population share their place of work in their profile, compared to 16% of business heads," notes the study.

The report notes 13% of participants are ready to share details about their work or trade secrets with online dates, with this number rising slightly to 16% for business owners or company heads.

Furthermore, 18% of online daters in general admit to sharing professional information with matches after several days of communication, while 31% of business heads are ready to do so. Not only does this leave confidential information freely accessible to other online daters, it also has the potential to result in more serious consequences - such as corporate espionage - if it were to fall into the wrong hands, according to the report.

"The online dating game can be challenging enough without people falling victim to scammers or unwittingly putting their company at risk," says Vladimir Zapolyansky, head of SMB Business at Kaspersky Lab.

"With plenty of business owners and senior business leaders using digital dating services, it is worrying that so many are happy to openly give away company information. It is even more concerning that they are making it easy for cyber criminals to access corporate data by not safeguarding their devices. Business devices should be protected and online dating users should be cautious about the amount of information they are making available in a bid to secure interest from a potential match."

Failure to draw a line between work and pleasure was also highlighted in the lax attitude of all research respondents when it comes to looking for love online. Nineteen percent of those surveyed locally admit to using the same devices they use for work to carry out their online dating activities, putting corporate documents, emails and even passwords at risk in the process, notes Kaspersky.

"Fifty percent of online daters also use their device to store work emails and 47% store files for work use, highlighting that, for business owners and employees, a potential security breach could have a significant impact on their company if this data was to fall into the wrong hands," notes the study.