Hack of Cupid Media May Have Exposed Your Password

Technical Issues
  • Thursday, January 09 2014 @ 06:48 am
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Somewhere in the back of our heads, rattling around with all the other information we ignore like "You really shouldn't drink that last shot of tequila," we know that having an online account means accepting the risk that that account might be hacked. But no matter how many times we hear horror stories of it happening to someone else, we never quite believe it could happen to us.

Imagine the surprise, then, that Cupid Media users must have felt when the service was hacked early in 2013 and the names, e-mail addresses, and plaintext passwords for 42 million accounts were exposed. Ouch. That has gotta sting.

Ars Technica reports that "The cache of personal information was found on the same servers that housed tens of millions of records stolen in separate hacks on sites including Adobe, PR Newswire, and the National White Collar Crime Center." An official from Cupid Media explained that the hack appeared to be connected to "suspicious activity" that was detected on the site in January and officials say they believe they have notified all affected users, but those actions and explanations are likely to do little to appease users whose personal information has been compromised.

The Cupid Media hack will go down in history as one of the largest passcode breaches on record so far, a dubious distinction made even worse by the fact that the data was in plaintext, rather than a cryptographically protected format that requires significant effort to crack. Because many Internet users reuse the same passwords on multiple websites, a hack on this scale can give thieves instant access to tens of thousands of sensitive accounts tied to a user's e-mail address.

"Making matters worse," Ars Technica speculates, "many of the Cupid Media users are precisely the kinds of people who might be receptive to content frequently advertised in spam messages, including male enhancement products, services for singles, and diet pills."

And making matters even worse than that, a review of the Cupid Media user records that were exposed reveals that a significant portion of them were protected with weak passwords in the first place. More than 1.9 million accounts were protected with the password "123456." Another 1.2 million used "111111." How is it that, in this day and age, there are still people who think those are secure passwords? Have they never seen the Internet before?

Take note, online daters: the more random your password is, the safer it is. And please, please, never use the same password on multiple sites.

How Much Should You Know About Your Date?

Social Networks
  • Wednesday, January 08 2014 @ 08:44 pm
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The power of the Internet has certainly changed how we date, especially with the popularity of online dating. Social media has made it really easy to access information about your dates, too. A lot of your dates will be checking out Facebook and Google to learn more about you before you actually meet in person. And chances are, you'll know more about them too.

I encourage people to do some research before the date. A few of my friends were horrified to discover their matches had engagement websites for their upcoming marriage to someone else, yet they were still online dating! Another saw that one of her matches had a police record. You don't want to be caught off guard or misled, so research is important.

Police records aside, how many of you research dates a little more than necessary? Do you really want to know what junior high school he attended, or what he ate for breakfast yesterday morning?

A quick look at Facebook or Twitter can tell you a lot about a person, but dating should be more mysterious. Don't you want the excitement of getting to know your date over time, discovering little quirks and habits for yourself? Or would you rather everything be out in the open, like her background in conservative politics or his experience growing up in a commune?

There's another argument to be made that sometimes we know too much, too soon. When you spend so much time researching someone you haven't met in person, building this idea of who he is in your head, you'll likely be let down in real life when you meet and there's no spark. You might even feel cheated. After all, you thought you really knew him.

But seeing someone's online persona - who he is through social media - can be a bit misleading. A person's social media presence isn't typically who he is in real life. People are much more complex. It's better to think of someone's blog or Twitter page as just a snapshot compared to who they really are as a whole.

It can also be misleading if you're emailing a potential date back and forth several times, becoming more emotionally attached to a virtual relationship. Maybe neither one of you feels compelled to meet in real life, at least anytime soon. But when you do this, you're not getting a complete picture of who your match is. You're falling for an image that you've built up, and one that might not even be real (catfishing).

Instead of getting hung up on your virtual interactions with dates, it's better to meet them in person sooner rather than later, and it's also good to learn about him in real life as you date, not just over Facebook.

Why Love at First Sight Has No Place in Online Dating

  • Tuesday, January 07 2014 @ 08:17 pm
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“Love at first sight” is a phrase that is seen by most as cliched, or outdated. We roll our eyes when the concept comes up... at least in public. Yet, many still harbor hopes or even expectations of love at first sight - particularly when it comes to online dating.

Consider the “ideal” online dating fairy tale: someone signs up for an online dating site on a whim. They create a profile, start searching, and soon enough, they see it: the profile of their perfect match. They can already tell the match is perfect just from the profile alone - it somehow speaks to their very soul. They send off a first-contact email (or maybe they were even contacted by their perfect mate in the first place) and immediately head out on their first date, where their date is even better-looking in person. And they all lived happily ever after.

If online dating is the wave of the future, why do we cling to the same old fairy tales? If anything, the online dating version is even more outlandish than the original, because we’re falling in love with a profile first. Most “love at first sight” stories can really be called “mutual attraction at first sight that eventually developed into more,” and to be sure, chemistry is a mysterious and powerful thing. But expecting to identify chemistry from a profile is a slippery slope - and often how scams happen.

When we choose to pursue online dating, we have to remember that we’re signing up for: a more efficient way to meet new people in person. We’re not acquiring any magical powers or knowledge. Profiles allow us to get a vague idea of who we’ll be meeting - in many ways, better than taking a chance with someone we’ve met on the street or in a bar, because we have a preliminary stage in which we can weed out the most obvious red flags. We can also meet people outside our own limiting social circle.

But we’re still going to have to assess chemistry in person. We still have to ultimately rely on our own judgement, even if we were initially introduced by a computer algorithm. We have to listen to our instincts, and keep a cool enough head that we don’t get carried away by a promising profile and photo.

Even when we do experience attraction at first sight, only time will tell if love and trust will grow. The truth is, love is mysterious and exciting enough on its own, and online dating is an exciting alternative to the same old methods of meeting people. Relying on a tired old fairy tale to jazz it up will only lead us to the same old unrealistic expectations and frustrated disappointment.

Should You Date Someone in Another City?

Long Distance
  • Monday, January 06 2014 @ 06:57 am
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Long-distance love isn't something most people seek out. After all, you want to find someone who lives close enough so that you can spend time together. But sometimes, we meet people outside of our desired geographic locations and we want to try and make it work - to create a long-distance relationship.

But how do you actually do this successfully?

Long-distance relationships do come with many challenges. It's hard to be apart and removed from each other's lives, (but it's also very romantic every time you're reunited, which helps keep the desire going). To avoid conflict and misunderstanding, it's important to communicate with each other on a regular basis.

Following are some tips to help build your long-distance relationship:

Take it slowly. If you met online, or had a brief fling while you were visiting a friend in another city, you don't really know the other person. It takes time to build a relationship - to get to know another person. So don't dive head first into romance. Talk to each other over the phone. Make plans to see each other in person, sooner rather than later. If you haven't yet met in person, then make sure it happens before you are too emotionally involved. The other person might be misrepresenting themselves and deceiving you (a term known as catfishing). Proceed with caution, and if your love keeps making excuses and avoids getting together, likely she has something to hide.

Communicate regularly. Texting is great and easy, but long-distance relationships require a little more involvement since you don't see each other face-to-face so often. Schedule time to Skype with each other or even talk on the phone. Tell him/ her details about your day, to include them in your daily life as much as you can. If something is bothering you, like the fact that you're the one doing all the calling, it's also best to share sooner rather than later. You don't want misunderstandings or resentments building up, and you do want the reassurance that you both feel the same way (committed to the relationship).

Live your own lives. Don't sit by the phone every Saturday night waiting for your partner to call. Instead, be more social. Make new friends, spend time with family, pursue hobbies you love. Developing your own life is important for long-term relationship success, no matter how far apart you are geographically.

Have a plan. Don't enter into a long-distance relationship without talking to each other about the end goal. You both would like to end up in the same place, right? If one of you is going to school, make plans for after graduation to relocate to one city. If your jobs are taking you away from each other for the long-term, one of you might want to consider moving should the relationship keep moving forward. Make a plan to assess things six months to a year from now.

Removing Your Restrictions

  • Sunday, January 05 2014 @ 09:26 am
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When it comes to performing online dating searches, sometimes your biggest enemy can be yourself. Why? Imagine you’re trying to solve a complex math problem, but you don’t have access to a math book, or a calculator. You try to puzzle it out yourself, but the answer is wrong. You walk away and come back to it later, but the answer is still wrong. You didn’t magically gain any new knowledge.

Online dating can be a bit like that: when you hit the same wall over and over, sometimes it’s because you’re hamstrung by your own limits. It’s hard to think outside the box because, well, it’s your box.

First, consider the sort of searches you do. Are you looking for the same key words, over and over? The same sorts of statistics? Why not try mixing it up a bit? Again, it can be hard to think of anything brand-new, so go all-out silly with it at first. Heck, do a search for the word silly. You might not ultimately find what you’re looking for, but you’ll likely find something different from the same old thing - and reading a new profile might make you think of still something else to search for, and so on, down the rabbit hole.

Next, consider the searches you aren’t doing - because your own preferences are keeping them from popping up as options. Is height really that important to you? What about age, or body type? Sure, it can be fun to watch your options winnow down to what is theoretically your dream match, but if your problem is that your options are too few, the problem may lie in what you’re looking for.

Age, for example, is one factor that people tend to feel strongly about, while at the same time admitting that it’s not a one-size-fits-all element when it comes to personality. You can be twenty going on thirty-five, and sixty going on twenty-three. But consider this: chances are you’ll be able to tell if someone really is “young at heart” or “mature for their age” just by reading their profile, let alone going on one date. Are you really that put out by taking time for a little extra reading or dating? And on the flip side, you’re opening doors to possibilities that weren’t there before.

Next time you tweak your profile, take a chance and get rid of as many preferences as you dare, just to see who’s out there. Similarly, try searching for something completely unlike you. You might just find something - a quality, a preference, an entire person - you didn’t even know you wanted.

Can Too Much Texting Ruin Your Relationship?

  • Saturday, January 04 2014 @ 08:54 pm
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  • Views: 1,854

Most of us have our phone with us at all times, and are texting the people in our lives on a regular basis. So it makes sense that we also use texting as a way to ask someone out or to make plans for a date. It's even a good way to flirt and keep the interest going.

But what about those who are already in relationships? Is it better to communicate with each other over text, or can it affect your relationship in a negative way?

According to a new study, too much texting can be a source of frustration and dissatisfaction when it comes to romantic relationships. Researchers from Brigham Young University who conducted the study found that, "couples that constantly text were more susceptible to miscommunication."

According to researchers, reaction to disappointment and other emotions occurs more quickly face-to-face. When you aren't able to gauge someone's reaction - like when you're texting instead of talking to each other - it leads to more miscommunication and hurt feelings.

The study looked at the habits of 276 men and women between the ages of 18 and 25 who were in serious relationships (including some married and engaged couples). Of the group, 82% said they traded messages back and forth with their partners multiple times per day.

Those who sent loving messages more often reported a higher degree of relationship satisfaction. But volume wasn't the main barometer in testing the relationships. It seems that men who texted more often typically felt less satisfied with the relationship. Researchers pointed out that this might be a way that men disconnect - by turning to their phones and decreasing face-to-face communication with their partners.

Female participants in the study felt differently. If they texted more often, they reported more satisfaction with the relationship. They also tended to use their smartphones when their relationships were in trouble. They took to texting to apologize, make a decision, or work out differences with their partners.

"Technology is more important to relationship formation than it was previously," BYU researcher Lori Schade said in a statement. "The way couples text is having an effect on the relationship as well."

Texting is shaping the way we communicate with each other, but it's also leaving us more confused about when to use our phones versus talking with each other in person, especially in our romantic lives.

It seems one thing is clear: if you need to discuss problems or have heavier relationship conversations, it's much better to do them face-to-face.

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