As Australians turned to dating apps and websites to find true love, they are also becoming online detectives with a report showing that two thirds conduct searches for information about their matches.
This practice is called online creeping.
According to the Norton Cyber Safety Insights Report, 62 per cent of Australians looking for love online do their own form of online vetting.
The online creeping of their matches includes searches on social media (38 per cent), searches on professional networking sites (21 per cent), finding their friends or family members on social media (15 per cent) and even paying to run a background check (8 per cent).
And this online searching can also cause an awkward outcome with potential encounters.
The report showed 40 per cent of those using dating websites and apps have turned their back on their prospective date because of the information they’ve come across online.
This is even though 66 per cent of Australians claim they actively take steps to hide their online footprint, yet enough personal information has been posted about them which resulted in them being snubbed.
But online creeping goes beyond single people investigating potential partners with 25 per cent of Australians who’ve been in a romantic relationship using technology to check on their current partner or ex-partner online without their knowledge or their consent.
And it’s significantly higher with young Australians aged 18 to 39 at 41 per cent compared to just 14 per cent of Australians aged 40 and over.
Surprisingly, 21 per cent of young Australians think this form of cyber stalking of their current or ex-partner online is harmless.
And 30 per cent say they don’t care if they’re being stalked online.
“Australians are using dating apps and websites to make connections, however it’s clear they are inadvertently sharing too much of their personal information publicly online,” says Mark Gorrie, Senior Director APAC NortonLifeLock.
“This personal data could potentially become compromised and be used by cybercriminals.
“I would urge anyone delving into online dating to consider all the information you share – both within your dating profile and more generally online – and take the necessary steps to keep your information safe.”
Among those who were surveyed for the report whoever had a romantic partner, the most common creeping behaviours including checking a current or ex partners phone to view text messages, phone calls, direct messages, emails or photos (10 per cent) and reviewing their search history (9 per cent).
Some respondents admitted to using their partner or ex-partner’s password to log into their device or online accounts (7 per cent), tracking their location via location sharing app (5 per cent) and creating a fake profile to check on them on social media (4 per cent).
Other key findings from the 2022 Norton Cyber Safety Insights Report include:
Majority of Australians are alarmed about loss of privacy.
-70 per cent of Australians surveyed say they are more alarmed than ever about their
privacy, with more than four in five (86 per cent) wanting to do more to protect it.
– Despite the significant concern about their online privacy, more than half (58 per cent) of Australians who took part in the study believe it’s impossible to truly protect
their personal data online – explaining perhaps why 70 per cent of Australians surveyed
say they accept taking certain risks online for greater convenience.
Almost half of Australians surveyed have experienced cybercrime
– The continued shift from in-person to virtual has provided fertile ground for
cybercriminals. Within Australia, nearly half of adults surveyed (46 per cent) have been a victim of a cybercrime, while a quarter (26 per cent) of those surveyed report experiencing a cybercrime in the past 12 months alone.
– The most common cybercrime experienced was detecting unauthorized access to an online account (28per cent). Around one in five (19 per cent) detected malicious software on a device.
– Around a third of Australians surveyed experienced a phishing scam (30 per cent), and nearly one in five experienced a social media hack or email hack (18 per cent for both).
More than half of Australians would not know what to do if their identity was stolen.
– Most Australians surveyed (59 per cent), whether they have personally experienced identity theft or not, say they are very worried their identity will be stolen.
– A third of respondents (35 per cent) are resigned to the fact that they expect their identity to be stolen at some point, yet nearly 3 in 5 (59 per cent) would have no idea what to do if it were stolen
“There is an opportunity for Australians to learn more about the steps they can take to protect the personal data on their devices,” Gorrie says.
“It is critical we continue to think holistically about our online presence beyond just social media profiles, and what information we share or allow people access.”
For those concerned that stalkerware or creepware may have been installed on their device, Mark Gorrie has shared tips from Norton to help you find it, remove it and protect yourself:
– Often, to install stalkerware of creepware, access to your device is needed. To protect yourself best, ensure you have 2FA (2-Factor Authentication) or biometric login enabled – so more than just a password is needed.
– In some cases, creepware can be installed remotely on your device through a link. Beware of files or programmes from third party sources. Illegal downloads or freeware from untrusted sources can sometimes be used by hackers to infect your devices with malware.
– To ensure you don’t have creepware or stalkerware installed on your device, it is important to fully inspect all apps on your devices and check nothing new has been added.
– Monitor your device’s battery use, a change could be a sign that an unexpected app is draining the battery.
– Review the permissions for each app – such as location, contact lists, access to calls, texts, camera, microphone and image gallery. If there isn’t a clear need for the app, simply delete it.
– Only download apps from trusted and verified sources, such as the Apple App store, Google Play or Windows store, as they will have undergone approval. You can add an extra level of security by installing security software to scan apps for any suspicious activity. Norton 360 includes mobile app scanning, which monitors every app download.
– Following these steps will help to reduce the risk to your privacy and data from unknown or anonymous actors.