Dating app hit by data breach on Valentine's day

Coffee Meets Bagel alerts users their accounts have been hacked on the most romantic day of the year

Coffee Meets Bagel logo

A US dating app had to inform its users their account information had been accessed by an unauthorised third party, somewhat ironically on Valentine's Day.

The Coffee Meets Bagel dating app notified its users on Thursday of a data breach it discovered on 11 February. The San Franciso-based company said it had learned that a third party had gained access to a "partial list" of users data and quickly took steps to determine the size and nature of the incident.

CNN journalist Donie O'Sullivan posted a screenshot of the company's notification on Twitter the same day it was released.

"We recently discovered that some data from your Coffee Meets Bagel account may have been acquired by an unauthorised party," the message said. "We would like to make sure you have the facts about what happened, what information was involved, and the steps we are taking to help protect you."

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Having to inform users of a data breach on Valentines Day, a time of the year where it's obviously going to push its marketing, will have caused the company quite a lot of embarrassment, but a spokesman told Tech Crunch that for clarity, it had to let the six million affected users know regardless of timing.

"With online dating, people need to feel safe. If they don't feel safe, they won't share themselves authentically or make meaningful connections. We take that responsibility seriously, so we informed our community as soon as possible - regardless of what calendar date it fell on - about what happened and what we are doing about it," the spokesman said. 

Coffee Meets Bagel launched in 2012 as a dating app that found connections through friends of friends. These connections were initially made by signing up to a Facebook account. However, in 2018 after the Cambridge Analytica scandal revealed how third parties had used millions of peoples data without their explicit knowledge, the app introduced an option to use mobile phone numbers instead of the social network.

Without further detail, there is room to speculate as to the who, what and why of this breach. It's also another incident that has a tenuous link to Facebook. As to where the data is being used, Lastline's director of threat intelligence, Andy Norton, believes the information is heading for the dark web.

"The Coffee Meets Bagel data is reportedly being sold on Dream Market, although it's currently offline so we've been unable to confirm," he said. "Dream Market is a dark market that sells many illegal things, including drugs, guns and stolen digital items.

"Essentially, these cybercriminals are trying to sell a list. Lists of personal information are one end of a malicious funnel, and the data is often bought by spammers and operators of credential stuffing tools."

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