Security Experts:

Popular Android Dating Apps Put Corporate Data at Risk: IBM

IBM’s Application Security Research team has conducted a study of 41 popular dating applications for Android and determined that more than 60 percent of them are potentially vulnerable to cyberattacks.

A study conducted by Pew Research in 2013 showed that roughly one in 10 Americans used online dating websites or mobile dating applications. This indicates that many people might put their personal details at risk by using such apps. Also concerning is the fact that 50% of the enterprises analyzed by IBM have employees that installed dating apps on mobile devices used to access business data.

IBM researchers determined that 26 of the 41 Android dating apps downloaded from Google Play in October 2014 had been plagued by medium or high severity potential vulnerabilities. It’s worth pointing out that the security issues have been identified using IBM’s AppScan Mobile Analyzer tool.

Experts discovered weak random number generators, which compromise security, and enabled debug flags, which allow attackers to intercept information. The buggy apps are also susceptible to man-in-the-middle (MitM) attacks which, according to IBM, can be leveraged for cross-site scripting (XSS) and phishing attacks.

Nearly three quarters of the apps analyzed by IBM have access to current and historical GPS information, which could be leveraged by an attacker to track a user’s location and habits. Some of the flaws allow cybercriminals to access the smartphone’s camera and microphone even when the user is not logged in to the app, the company said.

The security issues discovered by researchers can also be exploited to hijack users’ dating profiles. Once they have access to a profile, attackers can alter its content, impersonate the victim, or leak personal data, the report shows.

Almost half of the dating apps scanned with AppScan Mobile Analyzer also have access to financial information stored in the device’s mobile wallet. Vulnerabilities in the dating applications could allow malicious hackers to gain access to this data and make unauthorized purchases.

While exploitation of these flaws could have serious consequences for consumers, enterprises must not neglect the risks posed by the bring-your-own-device (BYOD) trend. In order to ensure that employee-installed apps don’t put sensitive corporate data at risk, organizations must educate their employees about application security, and deploy enterprise mobility management solutions that have mobile threat management capabilities.

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Eduard Kovacs (@EduardKovacs) is a contributing editor at SecurityWeek. He worked as a high school IT teacher for two years before starting a career in journalism as Softpedia’s security news reporter. Eduard holds a bachelor’s degree in industrial informatics and a master’s degree in computer techniques applied in electrical engineering.