How safe are your online personals photos? Can hackers steal your photos from your smartphone or your online dating site? The answer might surprise you. The fact of the matter is there will always be a vulnerability in any technology and a very smart person will exploit it. However, there are things to make it much more difficult for them to get your photos and if you make it more difficult then there is a good chance they will just move on to someone easier.
Let’s face it our images are already out there on lots of different platforms and there are companies like Clearview that have a business model where they scrape people’s images from all over the internet. So there is a very good chance that your photos are stored in some database somewhere. Since lots of people use their phones to take photos you have to wonder who has access to your photos and your selfies? No matter how safe your phone is, you can still have your data stolen. Each month, about 25% of all smartphones and tablets encounter a threat.
The risk is even higher among those who post personals photos on dating sites or social media. Hackers can easily crack your passwords using the information on your Facebook page. Let’s see how they do it. You’ve probably heard about all those stolen celebrity photos. Jennifer Lawrence, Sienna Miller, Emma Watson, and Rihanna are just a few examples. According to Business Insider, hackers can even copy fingerprints from photos and use them to steal your identity. Peace-sign selfies and high-resolution pictures are the most vulnerable.
Believe it or not, everything can be hacked. Just because you have the latest iPhone X doesn’t mean you’re safe. A hacker doesn’t need the most advanced technical skills to steal your data. In fact, after so many data breaches there is a good chance much of your personal information is already available for sale on the Dark Web.
Table of Contents:
- Why Hackers Want Your Online Dating Personals Pictures or Selfies?
- Dating Companies Won’t Protect You
- Why Would Someone Steal Your Personals Photos?
- How to Protect Personals Photos from Hackers
- Update your OS and apps to the latest version
- Use Two-Factor Authentication
- Use Very Strong Passwords
- Lock your smartphone
- Don’t use Public WIFI
- Create Unique Email accounts
- Don’t “Overshare” on Social Media
- Know where your Apps come from
- Hacking Your Smartphone and Selfies 101
- iPhone and iPad Hijacking
- Phishing by Message
- How to Know if your Smartphone is Hacked
- Find Love Online Without Falling Prey to Cyber Criminals
- Keep Personal Information Personal
- Never Download Attachments
- Never Make Financial Information Available
- About the Author:
We all tend to live on the internet now either through our smartphones, tablets, or computers. There is no escaping this interconnected life we lead. There are benefits and there are drawbacks to this technological way of living. The question is, what would make another person want to access our pictures and data over the internet. The answer is simple, money, or control.
People want to get your photos in order to either blackmail you or to set up fake profiles to try and lure others into interacting with them for fraudulent reasons. They are sure as heck don’t want to use their own photos so it’s better to set up lots of fake profiles with attractive people to see who they can trap. The simple act of hacking someone’s device gives them the ability to access your credit card and personal information which can go a long way towards identity theft. So the answer to the question of “why someone would want to hack your smartphone or tablet is not all that hard to understand.
While online dating companies have long privacy policies, they are always vulnerable, as are many other companies, to having their databases hacked. Remember Ashley Madison a few years ago? Hackers like to go after your personals information because it usually contains a lot more than just your credit card info. It offers images of you and personal information that they can use to social engineer you or others for identity theft.
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Internet crime, scams, hacking, identity theft, data mining, and spam are just a few of the things that internet users fear when they place personal information on the internet. Those fears are not ungrounded. Every week seems to bring news of hackers breaking into another website and stealing vital personal information. Hospitals, credit card companies, universities, government agencies, large corporations, schools, and many others have experienced breaches in their databases resulting in the release of sensitive personal information about their members to unauthorized individuals. Let’s face it; if the feds have trouble fending off hackers, Match.com doesn’t stand a chance.
But a hack attack is probably the least of your worries when you sign up for an online dating service. If you pay attention to the fine print, you’ll see that privacy policies are actually written to protect the dating site, not the member. Most privacy policies make a big deal about promising never to divulge your personal information or sell your private info, then completely negate those promises by listing exception after exception. Your online dating site will protect your personal data:
- EXCEPT when they want to share it with one of their service partners, and who knows what kind of privacy protection those unnamed partners offer or who they share your data with. Right this minute, the personal information you entered on an online dating site could be finding its way into some unknown company’s spam list.
- EXCEPT when the cops ask for it, which most people assume occurs only if the dating site is served with a legal warrant; but the words at our discretion mean the dating site can decide to hand over your personal data whenever they feel like it.
- EXCEPT if they’re bought out which, of course, means all bets are off and who knows what the new owner will do with your info.
You might wonder why someone would want to steal your pictures. After all, you’re not a celebrity or political figure. Hackers can use your personals photos and selfies to blackmail you. They may also set up fake dating profiles or share your pictures on adult sites. Let’s say you’re taking before and after photos to track your fitness progress. Or perhaps you’re fooling around in your new bikini. It’s fun and harmless.
One day, you discover a fake Facebook profile featuring your photos. Even worse, you find out that someone is offering escort services using your pictures. What if your boss or your friends stumble over those pics? Your reputation will be ruined. If you have a business and your clients see those photos, you risk losing your credibility. Luckily, you can protect your data and selfies by following some simple rules. Most times, a strong password can make all the difference.
Mobile security is a major problem with serious consequences. Hackers don’t even need a reason to steal your photos or private data. For them, you’re just a random victim. All is not lost there are some rather simple and straightforward precautions you can use to minimize your chances of having your selfie and personals photos hacked.
Many hacks and exploits are possible because people fail to update their software and app. There are always vulnerabilities and the manufacturers learn about them and patch them as fast as they can. If you don’t upgrade, then you miss out on the patch and leave yourself vulnerable
Here’s another obnoxious security measure that most people can’t stand. Two-factor authentication (2FA) is hated because it requires an extra step, and it’s really a pain if you forget to have your phone or watch nearby. But like passwords, it serves a purpose by providing an extra layer of protection in case someone gets ahold of your password.
The best way to prevent cyber-attacks is to choose a secure, hack-proof password. Use a mix of upper- and lower-case letters, symbols, and numbers. Passphrases are even safer. Many companies have encrypted password generators that can create a very difficult to crack the password.
You might be concerned that you’d never remember such a robust password, but the truth is your Smart device or computer will remember it for you, usually, all you need to do is input the username and the password. Will autoload if you allow that option. For increased protection, use a password manager. This service generates strong passwords and stores them in one place. LastPass, Opt for RoboForm, Dashlane, or other trusted password apps are a good way to make sure you have and use very strong passwords and encryption. Never share your passwords with anyone, especially by email. When you’re using public computers, uncheck the “Remember Me” option.
Here’s a really simple one to use. Simply lock your phone when not in use or set it to Auto-lock after a set time. If you do not lock your phone and have a tendency to leave it lying around then someone can access your phone and insert malware, forward your photos to their server, or do other things you are not going to like. Follow this simple precaution.
Public WIFI and even spoofed WIFI can be set up in public places to trick people into using the service so hackers can piggyback and access your smartphone. Unless you are very sure of the WIFI and you see that it has an SSL certification, then it is best to use your 5G plan minutes rather than risk it.
Snooping via open Wi-Fi networks is a real threat because eavesdroppers on an unsecured Wi-Fi network can view all its unencrypted traffic. Public hotspots might redirect you to spoofed banking, brokerage, or even email sites designed to capture your username and password. Someone physically across the road from a popular coffee chain could set up a login-free Wi-Fi network named after the café, in hopes of catching useful login details for sale or identity theft
Create a unique email account for each online dating site you subscribe to and never use a free dating site. You can create multiple Gmail email account and even have them forward to your regular email account.
Also, be careful what you share on dating sites and social networks. Your contacts don’t need to know when you’re on a holiday, or what banking service you’re using. They don’t need to know your birthday or social security number or your Mother’s maiden name etc. if anyone asks for this information you can be sure they are a fake profile trying to scam you too.
Unfortunately, many apps have hidden features that can be anything from mild security issues to a full-on hacking attempt. The best way to guard against this is to make sure you know where your apps are coming from and not to download any 3rd party apps. iPhone tends to only work with apps from the Apple Apps store which is supposed to test and verify all the apps on the platform but even they have been duped a few times.
Spy apps are a real threat. A study of cell phone spying apps back in 2013, found they could do everything they promised. Worse, they were easy for anyone to install, and the person who was being spied on would be none the wiser that their every move was being tracked.
“There aren’t too many indicators of a hidden spy app – you might see more internet traffic on your bill, or your battery life may be shorter than usual because the app is reporting back to a third party,” says Chester Wisniewski, a principal research scientist at security firm Sophos. To keep hackers away, limit the number of apps on your device. Avoid those that request permission to access your email or Facebook account. Remember to update your apps regularly. Older applications are more vulnerable to security breaches than ones that are updated regularly.
Hackers use the information they purchase on individuals to try and figure out people’s passwords or even other ways to assess and exploit their vulnerabilities. Once they know enough about you and the platforms you frequent then they can go to work on accessing your online dating pictures or your selfies.
Bluejacking, phishing, and malware apps are among the most common attacks. As long as you’re using the Internet on your phone, you’re at risk. The more advanced the hacker the more likely they are to crack your smartphone encryption and take over your phone. They only need a few minutes to steal your credit card data, personals photos, and selfies.
Here are the most common strategies they use:
If you have an iOS device, your photos are automatically stored in Apple’s iCloud. Just like everything else, this app has its weak points. In 2014, over 100 celebrities had their accounts compromised. Cloud storage makes it easier to upload and store images. Even if you lose your phone, you’ll still have your pictures in the cloud. The downside is that anyone who knows your password and username can access them. The easiest way to protect your phone is to choose strong passwords. Also, make sure you turn off automatic iCloud sharing and Google Plus Auto-Backup.
Hackers may use bluesnarfing to access your text messages, emails, and photos. This attack is most likely to occur when your device is in discoverable mode. To prevent it, keep your phone in “invisible” mode and turn off Bluetooth. Never store your passwords or credit card data on the phone.
Do you have Apple’s Find My Mac security app installed on your smartphone? If so, it’s better to remove it. Hackers can access this feature and take control of your phone. They encrypt your files and ask you for money to unlock them. In the worst-case scenario, they will steal all the data on your Mac. This type of attack is known as ransomware. It allows criminals to see where their devices are physically located and set a PIN to lock them.
Once they have access to your phone, stealing your photos is a piece of cake. To protect your device, enable Apple’s two-factor authentication. Set up a unique password for iCloud and another for your smartphone. Do not use the same password on your phone and computer.
Smartphone apps add functionality to your device. Unfortunately, they also increase the risk of hacking. The more apps you’re using, the higher the chances of a data breach.
Hackers can gain control over your phone through malicious apps. Once this happens, they can delete your social profiles or share your pics. Your credit card information is at risk, too.
That random text from your banking institution with a link for you to click to login and check some issue is usually going to be fake and an attempt to get you to click onto a lookalike site so they can steal your login credentials.
The same for emails. You have to be smart about even “official” looking emails since they can be a real threat. If you do get a message from your bank don’t click any links in the messages, just go to your browser or banking app and login directly so you have a higher percentage chance it’s real.
There are many other tricks hackers can use to access your data. Some of the most common smartphone security threats are inspired by computer hacking. For example, clicking on spammy links in the emails received on your phone may lead to identity theft.
If you see any of the following, then you might want to get your smartphone checked out by a professional. In some cases, you can default the smartphone back to the factory setting and then slowly add the apps back that you need but remember to change the passwords just in case.
Things to look out for:
- High data usage
- Sluggish performance
- Noticeably Shorter Battery life
- Weird activity on any of the accounts the phone is attached to
- Outbound emails, texts, or calls you did not make
Since there’s no longer a stigma associated with finding love online. In fact, the demand for online dating has grown so high that IBIS World reports the industry grew nearly 11.5% between 2014 and 2019 while generating more than $3 billion annually. With the potential for love, however, comes the very real risk of dealing with online threats. Phishers, scammers, hackers, and all manner of unscrupulous people prowling the Internet in search of someone willing to hand over their personal information in the hopes of finding a mate. If you’re an online dater, make sure you’re taking the proper steps to protect yourself with these tips.
When getting to know someone on the other side of the Internet, you can expect to hear a lot of the same questions: your likes and dislikes, your hometown, whether you have pets or children. Be scrupulous about sharing personal details at first, since the Attorney General reports that unsecured websites represent targets of opportunity for identity thieves. To steal your identity, a thief only needs your name, your date of birth, and the city or county where you were born. If they have a photo of you, that only makes it easier. A potential suitor who is just trying to get to know you is likely is not a thief, but when they persist in asking about personal information, cut them loose and go on to the next candidate.
A phisher or hacker can send a million virus-laden emails to your inbox, but so long as you do not open them and download their contents, your computer will remain safe and free of harm. Netcraft reports that phishers have ramped up their use of virus-laden or fraudulent HTML attachments in email files since their first appearance in 2005. Avoid opening any kind of attachment when a connection sends you a message. Instead, request a link to the restaurant he’s recommending, or ask him to upload the photo she wants to share, onto her online dating profile. For further protection against an accidental download, use a virus-screening platform like CenturyLink antivirus. Remember to regularly update your computer’s anti-virus software, so that hackers cannot confuse an older program with their new tricks.
Though many people have it ingrained in their heads that you can never be too careful about spending money online, many e-tricks exist to swindle people out of their hard-earned finances. The Better Business Bureau reports that an online dating connection who asks for money by wire transfer nearly always represents a scam. Likewise, potential sweethearts who claim to be in a serious situation, often stuck in a foreign country without money, tend to be fishing for anyone with a soft spot. Never enter credit card information on a site unless it is secured, and whenever possible use an e-money platform like PayPal or Bitcoins to minimize the risks of having your financial data stolen.
Unethical people will try and steal your data and your photos for any number of reasons. Unfortunately, no technology is ever truly completely safe. If “there is a will, there is a way” to access your data. The flip side is that you do not need to make it easy. Most of the time you make it just hard enough that they will lose interest and move on to someone else. You can learn all the ways that the top cyber sleuths use to protect themselves throughout this article. These are simple things that you can do that are more about changing your habits than adding any sort of new software or hardware to your devices. Sometimes when it comes to security versus ease of use, we choose convenience over security. This is a mistake. If you follow even a few of the recommendations outlined above, you can go a very long way to protecting yourself and your profile photos from hackers.
Claire Bahn has over 15 years of working as a personal branding expert helping clients build authority and influence through their online profiles and social media accounts.
Her background includes branding, public relations, Social Media, and marketing, as well as, entrepreneurship. She has a passion to help executives, entrepreneurs, and influencers strategize and create their best personal brand.
She is currently the CEO and Co-founder of Online Profile Pros and Stratus Branding. Ms. Bahn recognizes that first impressions are made online and the fastest way to achieving your goals is by taking command of your personal brand through your online profiles and social media. She started Online Profile Pros and Stratus Branding to help individuals create, maintain and protect their personal brands so that they achieve the authority, influence, and trust they need to succeed at online dating or their job search.
She’s been featured in numerous publications and news outlets including Forbes and Entrepreneur magazines.
Ms. Bahn is a former model and actress, appearing in national ad campaigns for major retailers. An avid fashion/lifestyle blogger she’s a recognized influencer. Ms. Bahn holds a BA from the University of Texas at Austin and currently lives in the Hollywood Hills in Los Angeles, CA with her 2 red miniature pinchers, Beau and Trixie.