Privacy study Mobile and online Dating


Published on

This paper is intended to educate mobile and internet users on the daily threats they face while using their cell phone, emails to communicate and browsing the web.

It contains current statistics on cybercrimes, online dating, web browsing privacy issues and so forth. Analyses case studies and offers solutions to protect your privacy.

Published in: Technology
  • Be the first to comment

  • Be the first to like this

No Downloads
Total Views
On Slideshare
From Embeds
Number of Embeds
Embeds 0
No embeds

No notes for slide

Privacy study Mobile and online Dating

  1. 1. Protect your privacy: Mobile & Digital Privacy and Awareness August 2012 A short study by the team of MobiDigger, Inc. – Mountain View, CA Authors: Hubert A.-M. Moik, 44, CEO MobiDigger, Inc. 14 years in the telecom/mobile industry, former CEO/Managing Director of Inside M2M, DataStorm Systems, Planetlive et. al. entrepreneur since 1993, member of SVASE, SDForum et. al., Founder & Partner GO Silicon Valley Juan C. Ramírez, 28, Market Research. MobiDigger, Inc. 1 year in hi-tech, 3.5 years in capital markets Economist and MS in Business Nick Vecchio, 22 3 years in mobile industry, College Student Website developer, Web marketing, Sales
  2. 2. OverviewIn a world where Google, Facebook, Twitter and other top web sites share and save userinformation, it is increasingly hard to protect individual privacy in new media—on the Internet andmobile phones. At the same time, information about privacy protection is very hard to find.Further, the majority of people who use the Internet are generally not properly informed aboutnew media privacy issues. To help users protect themselves, this presentation explores Internetand mobile privacy problems and solutions through reviews of case studies. It is designed toeducate users of new media in both key issues and solutions.ProblemContrary to conventional wisdom, privacy concerns are not limited to the Internet. It alsoencloses mobile phones, which penetration in America reached 104.6% in 2011 (totaling 331.6million subscribers) therefore exceeding the US population1. Even one-third of Americanhouseholds now have wireless device only2. Users are largely unaware that cell phonemessages -even simple text messages- ultimately can end up in the hands of strangers andeven on the Internet. Worse, for example, new “smart phones” send information about thephone’s location to databases. Though such databases usually are not public, they also are notprivate; this information, then can pose a danger to the person who uses their phone tocommunicate with strangers or other acquaintances, to whom they normally would not revealtheir locations. Private cell-phone information can also be revealed through a “reverse search,”in which anyone can search a cell phone number to find the owner’s name and address.In terms of the Internet, private information actually flows quite freely. Today, the most visitedwebsites share information, save information, and facilitate visitors’ buying and selling ofpersonal data. But many visitors to such sites do not realize that these pages’ hosts shareinformation they obtain from visitors. For instance, agencies of the government obtain Facebookand Twitter users’ info and routinely request cell phone carriers for their customers’ phonerecords as well3.With the existence of so many social media sites such as Google+, Facebook, Foursquare,Twitter and so forth, more concerns raise upon privacy issues. In a recent poll 59%4 of therespondents said they had little or no trust in Facebook, to keep their information private. A studyreleased in 2011 showed that 45% of the top 185 US web sites transmitted identity details to atleast four other websites. It was discovered that one online dating website transmittedinformation regarding gender, zip code and age to websites which auction personal data5.Google is known to compile private consumer information by using tracking cookies on 712 ofthe top 1,000 websites6.Often many people ignore how vulnerable they are by posting on their ‘walls’, because they don’tknow default privacy settings allow everyone to follow what you are doing. A simple update in1 Blumberg, S., Luke, J. (2012) Wireless substitution: Early release of estimates from NHIS july-Dec 2011. CDC.06/123
  3. 3. the Facebook profile such “I just drove 50 miles for the best ice cream” gives criminals a headstart to break into your home. And even worse, track you on your way back. In certainapplications such as Google’s Latitude, people publicly share their location to the world if theydon’t setup privacy settings correctly. It has been reported by a blogger that he was able tofollow people he didn’t even know, using information he gathered from the internet from unawarepeople. Hence, these sorts of things make it very easy for crime perpetrators to track theirvictims.Scams and spam are also major problems on the Internet today. One of America’s most popularwebsites, Craigslist is plagued with scammers who have devious ways of stealing users’information and money. Craigslist is not unique. In addition to websites, email spam is an all-too-common way for con artists to try to communicate with strangers, posing as friends in order toacquire information and steal money.Fake proxy websites are also a problem. While some proxies have a legitimate use (as whenstudents go to a proxy server in order to log-in to Facebook), ample cases have shown thatsome proxies present fake versions of Facebook, for example, in order to obtain log-in usernames and their corresponding passwords. The fake proxy website automatically sends thisinformation to a database, which then logs into the account and records all of the user’s accountinformation.Many websites offer a “free” gift or service, but by accepting such offers, users are oftenagreeing to lengthy contracts with monthly fees. For example, “free” credit-report websites oftenrequest credit card information, tricking the user into a monthly fee. Which is automaticallycharged to the credit card, thus the credit report is not free at all. This is a common strategy;many websites charge users for single visits, subscriptions, or for a monthly service. Often, otherwebsites say they are “free” and, yet, they request credit card information. This can indicate thatthe site is a fraud; often such sites will enroll the user into a monthly fee arrangement or, often,sell the subscriber’s credit card information to a third party.In response to the upwardly demand for the need to certify the identity of online daters. Manywebsites similar to the credit card score described above emerged. These sites offer onlinedaters to check their date’s ID to make sure they are who they claim to be. Most of the onlinedating verifications sites are also known to be scams that trick customers to give away theircredit card info and get them into costly fees or lengthy contracts without satisfactory results.Status QuoMany users, particularly children, are unaware of many privacy issues that exist, and some ofthese can be dangerous.People who “blind” date or participate in internet dating, often provide personal information aswell as their cell phone numbers. But, with just a cell phone number, criminals can find aperson’s name, address, and other information. Location information is also available viaFacebook “Places,” Twitter, FourSquare, and Google+ to name just a few, and these sites arecatalysts for publicly sharing this information.For example, if an address is listed with Google via Gmail, Google+ will provide the location(and, possibly, the address) of such users. So, anonymously, other users can obtain the
  4. 4. addresses of users who wish to retain their privacy. Further, Google can reveal a person’slocation when they simply perform a search on a smart phone or computer.The Internet often facilitates meetings between people who have never met before and,sometimes, these encounters result in crime and victimization. A few news stories emerged ofviolent crimes being perpetrated by predators who found and contacted their victims usingCraigslist. Teens, too, using their cell phones to send raunchy text messages and/or sexualpictures, can be victimized by their own activities. Sometimes, such messages end up in thewrong hands or, worse, under many eyes, and this exposure can cause consequences that aremuch more serious than embarrassment.If someone subscribes to a service or product, often scammers will sell the subscriber’s phonenumber and any other available data to solicitors. While users can subscribe to a “Do Not Send”list, this is a general “opt-out” of all text messaging, - senders of messages have to obey therules - but one could ask: which spammer will do that?The Facts of TodayAs of the Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project report 4% of cell-owningteens ages 12-17 say they have sent sexually suggestive nude or nearly nude images or videosof themselves to someone else via text messaging, a practice also known as ‘sexting’; 15% saythey have received such images of someone they know via text message.50 million new classified ads7 are posted each month on Craigslist, and most involve a face-to-face meeting. Since 2005, several shocking murders, robbery and slaying crimes8 linked tocontact originated through Craigslist, had a notable attention of the US media, creatingawareness on a new modality of crime generated through online advertising. In 2011 only, 330crimes9 were linked to Craigslist ad postings.Dating is another alarming issue which has increased dramatically with the booming of the onlinedating services. This industry is bigger than porn, has been worth $1,3 billion in 2011, and isexpected to reach $1.7 billion by 2013. The mobile dating market ($550 million in 2010) has alsoexperienced a rapid 90% growth since 2010 as the activity of online daters is shifting to a 3 to 1ratio from mobile to web users10.In the US are 45M+ active online dating users, the second biggest market only after China, andahead of India. Nowadays 49% of US households are led by a single adult and one in fiverelationships start on the Internet. But an astonishingly number of 1 out of 10 subscribers arefake profiles, created by scammers, that primarily victimize people over 40 years - however alldemographics are at risk. Last year 5,663 romance scams were reported, totaling economiclosses of $50.4M. Craigslist has been a main vehicle for this type of scams and its owner tookinitiative to shut down one of their personal services, partly out of concern for the safety of theusers.7
  5. 5. 11 Source: FBI – 2011 Annual Internet Crime ReportPrevious Case StudiesIn the last few years, many different issues have surfaced with regard to the growing number ofcases involving Internet and mobile phone security and privacy. As more and more peoplebecome increasingly dependent on technology in both their professional and personal lives, it isvital that they become aware of the dangers, as well.It is important, that users of technology pay attention to developments and learn from theresources available to aid in safety and security. In Alabama authorities arrested four middle-school students for exchanging nude photos ofthemselves. A 20 year old man who met a 15 year old girl on the Xbox game ‘Halo’ and drives 40 hours tostalk and text incriminating messages12. In Washington a man along with his accomplices were arrested after murdering a man whoposted a Craigslist ad to sell a ring. The group stormed the house and killed the seller whiletrying to defend his family. A Boston medical student was charged with murder, armed robbery, and kidnapping aftertargeting women of erotic services of Craigslist. At 22, he tried to rob a woman found through theinternet and when she struggled, he shot her. A blog on "" was the host for a series of events that lead to the death of a 19year old on a webcam. He died from an overdose of opiates and benzodiazepine that apparentlywas encouraged by some watching the webcam. A South Florida college student was on a livewebcam for 12 hours telling people he was going to commit suicide. Some watching and somehelping, the website became aware of the act about 4 hours before he was found dead.General statistics say 50% of children are either bullied or involved in bullying. When two highschool students recently killed themselves after being bullied, Fox News correspondent Dr. KeithAblow said, “The advent of new technologies makes it more apparent and more able for kids tobully.”11
  6. 6. By the end of 2010, the “The National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey” released areport for the National Center for Victims of Crime13. The study found that in the U.S. there hadbeen approximately 6.6 million adult stalking victims during 2010. Of these victims: 11% of victims were stalked for 5 years or more 66.2% of stalking victims experienced unwanted phone calls or messages 46% of victims encountered weekly an unwanted interaction with a stalker Stalkers’ most common tactic was telephone calls, voice or text messages 10% of the victims were monitored using a GPS system (like the one embedded in smartphones) 33% were stalked by people they didn’t know at all Approximately 25% experienced some form of cyberstalking such as email or instant messaging During any point of their lifetime 1 in 6 women and 1 in 19 men had experience stalking Source: part includes more information on how those who date can increase their safety when theyare using the Internet to socialize and the cell phone to make and/or stay in contact with theirblind date.It’s important that Internet and mobile users obtain good, overall knowledge of what’s going ontoday in terms of privacy and safety. The following resources are good examples of informationsources that will help users protect themselves. The links, blogs, services and articles listedbelow pertain to various lifestyles and a range of user styles, from kids to parents and fromsmartphone texters to Craigslist sellers.In 2010, a website called “PleaseRobMe” was setup to reveal as much personal information aspossible to show unaware users, what they actually publish. The site ran a program thatscanned Facebook and Twitter profiles that had no privacy settings, and then it recorded whenpeople said they were out doing something i.e. “getting food in San Francisco!” The programthen found their address and posted on the site where people were, their home address, andapproximately how long until they were going to return home. The site demonstrated, how easy it13
  7. 7. is to learn too much information about people online. This extreme case clearly indicates thatpeople need to pay close attention and be mindful of the information that they provide to thepublic via their “private” networking. As the site’s creators explained “The danger is publiclytelling people where you are. This is because it leaves one place youre definitely not... home“14Similarly, by the middle of 2011 a Facebook app called “Take This Lollipop” circulated in theInternet scaring users and raising the alarms yet again on how your private information can beeasily compile by third parties. As with all Facebook apps, users are requested to grant accessto Take This Lollipop to the user’s profile info. Once the user grants the access, the screen goesblack and appears a video of an unkempt looking man in front of a computer typing a passwordto the user’s Facebook login ID. Then he browses through the user’s Facebook profile andhumps into his car with a picture of the user in his dashboard, heading to track him/her.On the one hand, the emergence of this app also serves as a reminder to people that they haveto be careful with the information they share online and that most users ignore how to set privacysettings to avoid sharing sensitive information. On the other hand, that apps for Facebook andalso smartphones are a way for third parties to access users’ information and track theirconsumer behavior for the purpose of developing better ads.It might be argued that the best way to protect yourself is not to use the Internet at all—noFacebook, no Twitter, no smartphones, no downloading, no social networking, no “googling”, notexting. The problem with this solution is that it’s not reasonable, since it is not realistic tosuggest that people should not use the Internet or mobile phones! The Internet is part of ourdaily life. It can present dangers, but it can also make our lives much more interesting,productive, profitable, and personally rewarding. So, avoiding the Internet is not the answer. Theanswer is to seek out safe and practical solutions.To address the problem of credit card fraud, for example, there are a few solutions. The best, ofcourse, is never to use your credit card online and never provide it to any “free” websites. Whenyou are buying a product online, a good option is to go to a store and purchase a temporary cardwith cash on it. This is secure and the only amount at risk is what you put on the card. While thiscan be stolen, no personal or financial information goes with it. Google has a service that doessomething similar, where customers put money into an online account.The following website is a resource: As mandated by the FTC, thissite offers each person one free credit check each year, and it does not require a credit cardnumber.For online daters who want to make a background check on their blind dates, this web site cancome in handy: has a group of inspectors in the field, across the US, thatverifies in person the identity of the date of an end user. It requires a one-time payment perreport requested.Mobile is a new playing field for spammers, scammers and stalkers. For users who do not wantto receive commercial messages (as text ads or robocalls) the easiest way to “opt out” of theseis to list their number on the “donotcall”- and the donotsend” lists”15, provided by the FCC underthe CAN-SPAM act of 200716.14 www.pleaserobme.com15
  8. 8. The problem with these lists is, that they exclude a user basically from receiving any marketingmessages and an opt in into a wanted messaging service becomes actually a legal balance actfor the sender of these messages.The new service MobiDigger (learn more on page 11) offers a solution for users andadvertisers, keeping users safe with a nickname accompanied to their mobile phone andestablishes a basis for dating, advertising and classified services within a safe mobileenvironment.
  9. 9. References:General Information:- Can Help?- Privacy Rights Clearinghouse: EPIC (Electronic Privacy Information Center) http://scaryviral.blogspot.com4 Kids:- Parents:- Dating Users:- Sales / Classified Users:- pin-
  10. 10. - This document references to registered trade marks such as Facebook®, Google®,FourSquare® , Twitter®, Craigslist®, MobiDigger®, WeGoLook®, Latitude®MobiDigger:User portal: http://www.mobidigger.comService portal: http://www.mobidigger-inc.comFacebook page:
  11. 11. About MobiDigger®As cell phones and email are an essential item in our life, MobiDigger has become the tool toprotect us from every day’s threats accompanied by the daily usage of our mobile phones.While numbers of texted ads will increase significantly over the next few years, this service isavailable to help mobile phone users to maintain their privacy.Some new services help increase mobile phone users’ security. MobiDigger assigns nicknamesto phone numbers and also offers other perks to increase phone user safety. This textmessaging service provides “alias and domain service,” an excellent option for mobile privacy asthey do not share any of users’ personal information.By choosing a nickname to your mobile number, users can pick a basic, professional, or datingplan based on their lifestyle. Simply protecting their identity, meet work contacts or make friendsusing a profile they create.MobiDigger is naming mobile phone numbers viaa mobile messaging system, using a short code(96527), which brings a nickname/address toconventional, existing mobile phones.Users are able to block people from sendingunwanted text messages and emails to a phonewith a simple text message.Users can receive advertising, offers andcoupons without revealing their phone # or emailaddress.The service has grown to over 11,500,000 users and is now partnering with local and US widesponsors to expand the possibilities of safe networking!Contact:MobiDigger, Inc. www.mobidigger.com465 Fairchild Ave., Suite 223 hubert.moik@mobidigger-inc.comMountain View, CA 94043