Cyber criminals dump over 7000 photos of female Tinder users on shady website

Researchers at White Ops found that more than 7000 Tinder photos of women have been shared by the members of an online cyber-crime forum

Reports claimed that more than 7000 Tinder photos of women have been shared by the members of an online cyber-crime forum. This incident has raised concerns over the possible abusive usage of the images as the cybercriminals has shared only the photos featuring women.

A member of New York City's task force on cyber sexual assault, Aaron DeVera, who is also a researcher at a security firm White Ops said that they have found thousands of images on a website. As per the team, this unnamed website is known for trading in malicious software.

Leaked images of female Tinder users

tinder and dangers of online dating
The dating app Tinder is shown on an Apple iPhone in this photo illustration taken February 10, 2016 Mike Blake/Illustration/Reuters

As reported by Gizmodo, the reason behind dumping these photos are still unknown, but the availability of the images, particularly featuring women, has raised serious concerns. It should be noted that the people behind this incident also shared a text file that includes around 16,000 unique Tinder user IDs which could be the total number of affected Tinder users.

The incident has raised questions as these images can be used to commit illegal acts while targeting women or generating fake user accounts on other social media platforms to conduct malicious activities.

Some of these dumped images also showcase smartphone models like iPhone X and the limited metadata, as well as the timestamps dated as October 2019 suggest that many of these pictures were self-taken very recently.

iPhone X selfie
iPhone X selfie, Apple Event (Representational picture) Twitter

An official at the dating app Tinder stated that use of any photos or information outside the app is strictly prohibited and they have decided to take further steps to have the data removed online.

Discovery of the threatening scenario

Tinder app
Tinder app Wikipedia

The White Ops researcher, DeVera is concerned over the removal of dumped files as he believes that the process won't be easy at all. While talking to Gizmodo, he said that this incident of taking pictures without the consent of users and releasing it on a shady website points out the necessity of the additional measures to secure users' data of Tinder.

However, it should be noted that earlier in 2017, a researcher at the Google subsidiary Kaggle for the purpose of informing a machine learning model scraped around 40,000 profile images of Bay Area users to create a facial dataset. After the incident Tinder said it was taking steps to "deter and prevent" scraping of its data by parties seeking to exploit its API, reported TechCrunch.

On Wednesday, an official at Tinder stated that after alerted to the image leak incident, the company has added more resources to address misuse of its app. Meanwhile, a spokesperson said, "We know that this work is ever-evolving for the industry as a whole, and we are constantly identifying and implementing new best practices and measures to make it more difficult for anyone to commit a violation like this."

The targets are women Tinder users

DeVera mentioned that the duped images have shown that the targets are female users. Since Tinder is a dating app, "there are photos a person may not necessarily want to be presented to the public," said the researchers adding that it is possible that someone is trying to use these profiles to train biometric software, most probably a face recognition system. DeVera claimed that face datasets are the perfect place to start making fake personas and online profiles.

The illegal acts using leaked images

It should be mentioned that in recent years, Deepfakes have become a widespread, international phenomenon. This technology has been weaponized most often against unconsenting women. Even software called DeepNude uses a photo of a clothed person and creates a new, naked image of that same person and again the major targets are women.

Such technologies work best on images where the person is already showing a lot of skin. The most devastating use of these technologies has been whether to experiment with the technology using images without women's consent or maliciously spreading nonconsensual porn on the internet.