March 29, 2018 at 12:31 pm EDT | by Mariah Cooper
Grindr security flaw exposes user location data
Grindr, social media app, gay news, Washington Blade

(Logo courtesy of Grindr)

More than three million of Grindr’s daily users were temporarily put at risk because of a major security flaw in the app that was exposed by a third-party site.

C*ckblocked, a now-defunct site that allowed Grindr users to view who blocked them by entering a Grindr user name and password, was able to access user information from Grindr’s Application programming interface (API). The information included email addresses, deleted photos, personal messages and the location of users.

Trever Faden, founder of C*ckblocked, told NBC that it would be easy for anyone to access a user’s private information.

“One could, without too much difficulty or even a huge amount of technological skill, easily pinpoint a user’s exact location,” Faden told NBC. 

In a separate security issue, Faden claimed that Grindr users’ location, which must be inputed directly into the app and not via a third-party site, was not encoded and could be accessed by anyone monitoring public online traffic.

Faden emphasized that the ability to find a user’s location was “a feature, not a bug.”

NBC reports that two independent cybersecurity researchers confirmed the security flaw.

After Faden informed Grindr of the security issues, Grindr blocked the flaw that allowed third-party sites like C*ckblocked to receive data.

Grindr released a statement advising users not to use their username and password for other sites.

“Grindr moved quickly to make changes to its platform to resolve this issue. Grindr reminds all users that they should never give away their username and password to any third parties claiming to provide a benefit, as they are not authorized by Grindr and could potentially have malicious intent,” the statement reads.

However, Grindr denied that user location isn’t encoded.

“Grindr is a location-based app. Location is a critical element of our social network platform. This allows our users to feel connected to our community in a world that would seek to isolate us. That said, all information transmitted between a user’s device and our servers is encrypted and communicated in a way that does not reveal your specific location to unknown third parties,” Grindr’s Chief Technology Officer Scott Chen told the Huffington Post. 

The company also released a statement on Twitter to inform users that the problems have been addressed and to be safe using their service.

The flaw is similar to the one in the Facebook/Cambridge Analytica scandal, which allegedly exposed the personal data of 50 million users.

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