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Safe sexting: beware of Tinder’s beautiful bots

Official-Tinder-AppWhen you join a social dating app like Tinder, you’re probably aware of how to stay safe after a date has been arranged: choose to meet in a public place, tell a friend where you’re going and don’t stay for long if he’s holding a chainsaw and wearing a hockey mask. But what about your security before a date has been arranged?

According to a recent report, an array of robots (bots) have descended upon the Tinder dating app in an attempt to entice singles and encourage them to download malware onto their mobile.

The bots typically have a realistic name, a beautiful profile and will strike up conversation with you as soon as you select them as a potential date. Of course, this is true for many real users, so you have to look out for the best sign that you’re talking to a malicious machine: they will mention a link at some point in their conversation.

Typically, the bot will use something to entice you into clicking the provided link. In the case of UK Tinder users, it is currently supermarket vouchers. Others are reporting that the fake-Tinder profiles are telling potential dates that they can’t stop playing the mobile phone game Castle Clash and share a download link. Again, the all of these links are actually malware (Castle Clash is actually a real game, so they’re also being hurt by the scams).

If you do use the app – or know someone that does – it’s important to watch out for these bots. Another telltale sign is that they provide website addresses that sounds too official. In most cases, it’s something like

This isn’t the first example of using dating as a way to spread malware, however. Lots of websites – typically adult ones – pretend that an attractive person has messaged you and is interested in your company. The bot behind the message will also provide a link, and again, it’s best not to click it.

If you’re unsure whether you’re talking to a bot or not, remember that they’re still not very smart. Ask it about the weather, for example, or its favourite Game of Thrones character. If it ignores your question and keeps trying to get you to click the link, it’s either a bot or someone very rude, who you probably shouldn’t be dating anyway.

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