b2ap3_thumbnail_i_love_you_400.jpgOnline dating has been around long enough that it no longer carries a negative social stigma. In fact, you may know of some success stories from online dating–or you may have even successfully used online dating yourself. When looking for online love, remember to use protection from scammers.

What an Online Dating Scam Looks Like
The watchdog website Hoax-Slayer.com provides us with a great walkthrough of this scam:

  1. A person registers at an online dating service and creates a profile. The profile will include information, and possibly a photograph, of the person along with a way for interested people to make contact.
  2.  In due course, a scammer contacts the person posing as someone interested in exploring a possible romantic relationship.
  3. The victim responds and the pair begin corresponding regularly. They may soon bypass the dating service contact system and start communicating directly, usually via email.
  4. Over time, the scammer will slowly earn the trust of the victim. He or she may discuss family, jobs and other details designed to make the correspondent seem like a real person who is genuinely interested in the victim. Photographs may be exchanged. However, the “person” that the victim thinks he or she is corresponding with, is likely to be purely an invention of the scammer. Photographs may not even show the real sender. The victim’s apparent love interest may look completely different to the person in the photograph and, in reality, may not even be the same gender.
  5. After the scammer has established the illusion of a genuine and meaningful relationship, he or she will begin asking the victim for money. For example, the scammer may claim that he or she wants to meet in person and ask the victim to send money for an airfare so that a meeting can take place. Or, the scammer may claim that there has been a family medical emergency and request financial assistance. The scammer may use a variety of excuses to entice the victim to send funds.
  6. If the victim complies and sends money, he or she will probably receive further such requests. With his or her judgement clouded by a burgeoning love for the scammer’s imaginary character, he or she may continue to send money.
  7. Finally, the victim will come to realize that he or she has been duped, perhaps after waiting fruitlessly at the airport for a “lover” who, will of course, never arrive.
  8. Meanwhile, the scammer pockets the money and moves on to the next victim. In fact, the scammer may be stringing along several victims simultaneously.

The Business of Breaking Hearts
At this point, you may be thinking, “I’m a business owner in a happy relationship. How is all of this relevant to my company?” We’re glad you asked. Thanks to the growing trend of people using their personal devices for work purposes (BYOD), any online scam that threatens an employee’s personal life can, by de facto, put your company’s data at risk.

In the example we shared from Hoax-Slayer, the scammer was pulling on people’s heartstrings to directly con them out of money. A more savvy scammer with bigger goals may take the false romance route to get at your company’s data, which is much more valuable than a plane ticket. If you have a lonely employee using an online dating service from the same device they use for work, then you will want to take steps to safeguard your business from this risk.

If the email address the employee uses to communicate with the scammer happens to contain sensitive work information, then the relationally-suave hacker can access company files after hacking the account. In a situation like this, they could also gain access to any company accounts associated with the email account. It may be easier for a hacker to get more money by holding these stolen accounts ransom. Additionally, due to a hacker having a romantic connection with the duped employee, manipulating them to reveal sensitive company information will be easy.

Or, what if an employee entered an online relationship when they shouldn’t have? Then you’re looking at a potential blackmail scenario. An employee with a high level of clearance to your company’s data will make them a valuable target for the seduction tactics of a scammer. In fact, this is a common tactic used by enemy countries to get military personnel to reveal national secrets. As a business owner, you’re a big target in the world of scammers. Be careful when interacting with strangers online and don’t get caught in a malicious Cupid’s crosshairs!

Scams coming from online dating is just one avenue that hackers will use to get at your data. By implementing mobile device management tools and security solutions to bolster an airtight BYOD policy, you will be able to stay ahead of hackers looking to swipe your data from all the wrong places, including the heart.

For dating advice and network security solutions, call Iron Edge at 832-910-9222.

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