Millions of Tinder users left open to GPS security flaw
- 19 February, 2014 12:00
A new flaw in popular dating app, Tinder, has left millions of users open to being tracked by anyone with a ‘rudimentary’ technical backround.
New research from New York-based computer security firm, Include Security, has revealed a vulnerability which allows strangers to pinpoint a user’s exact location, a huge privacy violation for its users and the perfect way to end up with an unwanted visitor on your doorstep.
To demonstrate and test the vulnerability, researchers built a private app called TinderFinder which uses triangulation to discover users’ exact locations.
Include Security managing partner, Eric Cabetas, said his firm found a way to use the data that Tinder sent across the network to find the exact locations of users within 30m.
“This is not something the users can see, this is behind the scenes data,” he said.
“Tinder was sending really accurate distance information.”
Cabetas said his firm, which was commonly employed to test security of Apps, informed Tinder of the vulnerability in October last year and suggested a fix for it.
It was fixed in January leaving users open to privacy violation for more than three months.
“It’s pretty straightfworward process and anyone with a rudimentary technical background could figure out how to do it within an hour or two,” he said.
“We escalated it to their CEO and they acknowledged it and said thanks for letting us know.
"Every three or four weeks we would contact them and I can only say we saw a couple of ignored emails and very brief non descriptive replies.
“This issue is no longer reproducible on Tinder.”
Cabetas said all location aware apps had the potential to be vulnerable.
“The main message is you really need to get these things looked by a security specialist,” he said.
“If you put these apps out and put your users at risk they are not going to be very happy.
“The most you can do as a consumer is demand there are security experts looking at developers’ apps.”