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How the Person You Matched With Online May Be Creeping on You

Posted on 10-Feb-2022 17:00 | Filed under: News

NortonLifeLock has published the New Zealand findings from a global study about online dating and the ways people are checking up on their prospective dates.  
When matching with someone online, it is only natural for people to do a little extra research on their potential dates. The survey conducted online in partnership with the Harris Poll among 1,000 New Zealand adults ages 18+, found that 67 per cent of New Zealand adults surveyed who have ever used a dating website or app have looked up a prospective partner after matching with them online. 
The most common tactics for vetting ahead of a prospective date by those that use online dating apps and websites include looking up social media profiles (51%), typing a name into a search engine (26%), or looking up a profile on a professional networking site (21%).  
Nearly one in four Kiwis surveyed who online date (24%) take it a step further by looking up a dating match’s friends or family members on social media. If that sounds intrusive, think about those that are unknowingly subjected to background checks – 4% of online daters admit to paying for a check on their match. 
“I’d be surprised if Kiwis didn’t Google or engage in some form of online vetting before meeting someone in person for the first time,” says Mark Gorrie, Senior Director - APAC, NortonLifeLock. “With people discounting a match because of what they’ve discovered online, it really highlights how personal information online can go beyond the originally intended audience and why it’s best to keep your contact information private.  
We see an issue when that vetting turns into online creeping or worse, cyberstalking. Kiwis need to take care of what information they’re leaving behind in online profiles, dating apps and more. If that personal information winds up on the dark web, it can be used for even more nefarious purposes like cyberstalking or identity theft.” 
Additional findings from the survey include: 
• Social media lurking can lead to awkward moments with nearly one in seven Kiwis (13%) who took part in the survey saying they have accidentally “deep-liked” an old post or photo on a social media profile of a romantic interest or of their partner’s ex-significant other – and it’s no surprise that younger generations are more likely than their older counterparts to do so (30% aged 18-39 vs. 3% aged 40+). 
• Many are checking in on their romantic partners as well and almost a third of New Zealanders surveyed who have been in a romantic relationship (30%) admit to checking in on their current or former partners without their knowledge or consent. The most common ways are to check their phone to view text messages, phone calls, direct messages, emails or photos (15%), and reviewing their search history on one of their devices (10%)  
• Younger Kiwi adults are more likely to creep online than other generations. A concerning 34% of younger generations surveyed, aged 18-39, say they would be more likely to stalk a current or former partner online if they knew they would not get caught, compared to only 13% aged 40+. 


The survey also found some New Zealanders take preventative measures to protect themselves online but there is certainly room for improvement. Close to one in five adults surveyed who have ever used a dating website or app (17%) say they have used something other than their full name on the platform, while just 9% of all New Zealand adults say they have shared their location with a friend or family member before meeting up in person with someone they met online. 
“The data tell an interesting story. While we want to believe the kids will be alright, the reality is that across the generations Kiwis need to take basic measures to protect themselves while online dating. Be careful with the data you share online, including your full name, and tell a friend or family member where you’re going before meeting someone new, and take steps to protect the personal data on your devices,” says Gorrie. 
For those concerned that stalkerware or creepware may have been installed on their device, Mark Gorrie has shared these additional tips from Norton to help you find it, remove it and protect yourself:  
• Often, to install stalkerware of creepware, access to your device is needed. To protect yourself best, ensure you have 2FA (2-Factor Authentication) or biometric login enabled - so more than just a password is needed. 
• In some cases, creepware can be installed remotely on your device through a link. Beware of files or programmes from third party sources. Illegal downloads or freeware from untrusted sources can sometimes be used by hackers to infect your devices with malware.  
• To ensure you don’t have creepware or stalkerware installed on your device, it is important to fully inspect all apps on your devices and check nothing new has been added.  
• Monitor your device’s battery use as a change could be a sign that an unexpected app is draining the battery. 
• Review the permissions for each app - such as location, contact lists, access to calls, texts, camera, microphone, and image gallery. If there isn’t a clear need for the app, simply delete it. 
• Only download apps from trusted and verified sources, such as the Apple App store, Google Play or Windows store, as they will have undergone approval. You can add an extra level of security by installing security software to scan apps for any suspicious activity. Norton 360 includes mobile app scanning, which monitors every app download.