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Red-hot love gone bad: Burned by that steamy pic, sext, or shared password

Feb 12, 20135 mins
Data and Information SecurityMicrosoftSecurity

Ah Valentine's Day can be great, but before you send that risqué photo, sext, or share your password with your lover . . .

Valentine’s Day is the busiest day for florists and one the busiest for private investigators; it’s also the day most cheaters get caught. But it’s not just cheaters that get burned when a love affair goes bad. When a hot and steamy relationship turns rabid, that sexy email, sizzling picture or sext may come back to you burn you. Another big no-no can happen if you’ve shared your password with your lover . . . as “you” might buy him or her one last huge parting gift.

As part of the #SextRegret campaign, @McAfeeConsumer tweeted, “Roses are red, violets are blue, and that risqué photo you just saw on the Internet looks just like you!”

According to the McAfee study “Love, Relationships, and Technology: When Private Data Gets Stuck in the Middle of a Breakup:”

Nearly two-thirds of smartphone owners have personal and intimate information (such as revealing photos, bank account information, passwords, and credit cards) on their mobile devices, yet only 40% have password protection on their devices, leaving a huge gap in personal data protection.

The study shows that 94% of Americans believe their data and revealing photos are safe in the hands of their partners. However, 28% of people regretted sending that personal information and 10% of people have been threatened by their exes that they would expose risqué photos online.

It’s not always an ex that wants to extort a person for risqué photos. The Justin Bieber poser recently got 35 years for sextortion. In fact, the FBI has repeatedly warned about not becoming a victim of sextortion. It’s not just girls that are targeted such as was seen in the recent sextortion case; a man from Brazil, a small Indiana town, coerced “at least 100 young people into making explicit videos.”

In January, the FBI busted Karen “Gary” Kazaryan in a sextortion case. The 30-count indictment claims that he hacked “into hundreds of Facebook, Skype and e-mail accounts” and “changed the passwords, which locked victims out of their own online accounts. Once he controlled the accounts, Kazaryan searched e-mails or other files for naked or semi-naked pictures of the victims, as well as other information, such as passwords and the names of their friends. Using that information, Kazaryan posed online as women, sent instant messages to their friends, and persuaded the friends to remove their clothing so that he could view and take pictures of them.”

So before you send that sexy picture, stop and think. In fact, before you store anything in your smartphone or email account that you wouldn’t want your mother to see, know McAfee research revealed that 60% of sexts get leaked. Pictures can be so much more damning. As you know, a picture can say much more than 1,000 words.

McAfee advised:

♥ Lock Your Lips. Do not share passwords with anyone.

♥ Lock Your Devices. Use password protection on your phone and other mobile devices.

♥ Love the Delete Button. Take the time to delete personal or intimate text messages, emails and photos on your phone.

♥ Share the Love, Not the Info. Once you share private information with those you love, that data is out of your hands, and out of your control.

AVG told Help Net Security:

A new danger awaits users of mobile devices: beware QR codes displaying Valentine’s Day advertisements. The danger lies not in the codes themselves but in what can lie at the other end. When you use your smartphone to scan a QR Code, you are taken directly to the site without its URL being displayed or you being asked first if you want to go there.

Last but not least, Lavasoft also warned us to be on the lookout for online scams and phishing emails. Cybercrooks are hoping you will download or click on the link to that fake e-card from a “secret admirer” so they can infect your PC and steal your personal information. If you forgot to get your significant other a gift, be cautious about low-priced, last minute gift ordering sites. Also tread carefully before downloading a romance-related app as it might do something much more scary than taint your love.

Happy Valentine’s Day! May you have great love and no nasty break-ups.

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ms smith

Ms. Smith (not her real name) is a freelance writer and programmer with a special and somewhat personal interest in IT privacy and security issues. She focuses on the unique challenges of maintaining privacy and security, both for individuals and enterprises. She has worked as a journalist and has also penned many technical papers and guides covering various technologies. Smith is herself a self-described privacy and security freak.