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Glitch in the online dating website is a threat to data security

The users of the popular online dating website of the United Kingdom were affected emotionally because of the data breach.

The UK daily

Since 1821 the Manchester Guardian is the British daily newspaper and after 1959 it is known as the Guardian. The newspaper daily was founded by John Edward Taylor with the backing of non-conformist businessmen and soon became famous among the people for providing explicit news. The daily newspaper along The Observer, its Sunday sibling started to publish online news that offered free access to the current affairs and archive of 3 million stories.


The paper launched its online dating website known as Soulmates in 2004, which is dedicated to helping the users find a potential match and bond them into a long-lasting relationship. The website has list of success stories and it has the privilege of connecting likeminded peoples together and has different dating categories based on the place, and other interests, like Mature dating, Lesbian dating, Gay dating Professional dating, London dating, Brighton dating, Glasgow dating, Leeds dating, Manchester dating, Dublin dating, Edinburgh dating, Sheffield dating, Oxford dating, Birmingham dating and Bristol dating.

The dating website runs events for the members of the website and it gives them the opportunity to meet the matches face to face and special classes on speed dating and flirting master classes are conducted teaches on finding quick dates. The users can also enjoy the free tips and assistance through the online dating platform; from writing the first dating message to getting ready for the first date- all the dating tips are given by the website. All the advice and tips provided in the online dating platform is offered by the dating professionals.

The online dating website has members from the United Kingdom and many other places of different background, ages and sexual orientation. Unlike other dating websites, Guardian’s Soulmates allows people to browse the profiles and if they are interested to see further, then they can register on the website for free and create their profile. And they can go for the subscription packages which have various different features that make online dating an effortless process. Most of the companies benefit from the proprietor and shareholders, but the profits of Soulmates are again invested in Guardian Media Group so that the company can sustain the journalism industry free from political and commercial interference and upholds all the values of the Scott Trust.

Data breach caused by human error

The usernames of the members of Soulmates online dating website and the email address were exposed publically by a service provider causing trouble to the users. This information was released by Guardian News and Media and confirmed that they received twenty seven inquiries from the Soulmates users.

According to the report from the users, their email addresses were used for exposing their Soulmates account and from the investigation held by the GNM proves that the data breach occurred because of the human error that was caused by a third party service provider. However, this issue was fixed by the company and it did not expose any of their personal details like date of birth or credit card. The member’s whose email address and user ID were exposed were encouraged by the company to contact the Soulmates support center for any kind of help relating to their account or email address. The company also considered data security as a universal issue and examined the entire system and confirmed that none of the third party breached the system’s data and they have also secured the network so that this kind of further problems might not affect the website and its users.

Though other information was not exposed, there are chances to easily tap the user information like physical description, relationship preference and photos using the account details and email address. Some of the users of the online dating website even received explicit sexual spam through their Soulmates account. The users were receiving personal messages and rather than connecting with the potential match the spam targets them by employing the snippets of the personal details that were obtained from the profiles.

 And the important fact is that the people who received this kind of spam had not used their dating account for many years and are also not paying any kind of subscription. The members of the dating website are charged thirty two pounds per month and they received spam messages due to human threat.

Weakness of the security chain

The details about the third party technology provider are not identified and it is still not clear where the door was opened for the data to be breached. And if the fault is being caused because of the third party, then it is strong example for the industry to know how the contractors can be a weak link in the case of the security chain.  Because no matter how strong the cyber security the company has, if any one the contractors is not up to the scratch.

It is evident that all the data is shared among the people involved in the business, do outsourcing operations, buy and sell things and form their own individual security chain. Therefore a data breach in any part of the chain can influence the integrity and privacy of the data.

The users who are dealing with businesses that consist of large number of sensitive personal information are more vulnerable not only to the attacks; they are affected by reputational damages that cause cyber attack and data breach.

The businesses in the United Kingdom can take immediate terms to ramp up the potentiality by modifying their plans and test their systems because they can be well prepared when sudden attacks like this occur in the future. The European Union General Data Protection Regulation next year will pass a national legislation mandating notification of the data breach incident within three days. And it will raise the requirement of the companies to address the response capabilities, especially in the prohibitive fines according to the commissioner’s disposal.

Conclusion

The members of the Soulmates online dating website received pornographic spam messages because of the data breach. Because of a third party service provider, the user ID and the email address of the members of the online dating website were exposed causing havoc among the users. However, no other personal information like the credit card details or other details was leaked. The GNM (Guardian News and Media) claims that the incident occurred due to the human error and was not because of any other ethical attack.

The exact details of how many members were affected due to data breach were not found, but the company had received complaints from twenty seven different Soulmates users. The company somehow resolved the issue and also the company apologized their users for the inconvenience caused by the service. The cyber security expert, Professor Alan Woodward at the Surrey University stated that the issue was bounded by the fact that a large number of people use the online dating website to find their potential match and carry on with their relationship without being aware of their personal information is still in the system’s database.

Author Bio:

Anand Rajendran is CEO and Co-Founder of Dectar, best PHP scripts development company located in India. Dectar is a part of Casperon Technologies is a leading social and mobile development company which has launched a Discreet Dating App called Datingo App . I’m a Tech geek, Digital marketing expert, Entrepreneur, and Atheist who loves to write everything about PHP Scripts and mobile application development.

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