Users of Grindr, the popular dating app for gay men, may have been broadcasting their location despite having disabled that particular feature. Two security flaws allowed for discovery of location data against a user’s will, though they take a bit of doing.
The first of the flaws, which were discovered by Trever Faden and reported first by NBC News, allowed users to see a variety of data not available normally: who had blocked them, deleted photos, locations of people who had chosen not to share that data, and more.
The catch is that if you wanted to find out about this, you had to hand over your username and password to Faden’s purpose-built website, C*ckblocked (asterisk original), which would then scour your Grindr account for this hidden metadata.
Of course it’s a bad idea to surrender your credentials to any third party whatsoever, but regardless of that, this particular third party was able to find data that a user should not have access to in the first place.
The second flaw involved location data being sent unencrypted, meaning a traffic snooper might be able to detect it.
It may not sound too serious to have someone watching a wi-fi network know a person’s location — they’re there on the network, obviously, which narrows it down considerably. But users of a gay dating app are members of a minority often targeted by bigots and governments, and having their phone essentially send out a public signal saying “I’m here and I’m gay” without their knowledge is a serious problem.
I’ve asked Grindr for comment and confirmation; the company told NBC News that it had changed how data was handled in order to prevent the C*ckblocked exploit (the site has since been shut down), but did not address the second issue.