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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, August 29 2014 - Volume 42 Issue 35
Hacker warns Grindr users about security flaw
Section One
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Hacker warns Grindr users about security flaw

by Shaun Knittel - SGN Associate Editor

Like the old saying goes - 'It takes one to know one', a hacker, who wishes to remain anonymous, claims to have contacted Grindr to alert them that a security flaw in the app has allowed for other hackers - maybe the kind who like to lure Gay men to a hookup and then beat them or worse - can login to the Gay hookup app without any problem at all. The tipster claims to have contacted thousands of Grindr users worldwide to alert them to the possibility that who they are talking to might not be who they say they are.

In Seattle, on June 1, Ali Muhammad Brown, a convicted sex offender and Muslim extremist, lured Ahmed Said, 27, and Dwone Anderson-Young, 27, to their deaths on Grindr by posing as Gay on the mobile hookup app. In what has been described by King County Senior Deputy Prosecutor Wyman Yip as two 'extremely violent, senseless and seemingly unprovoked' murders, Brown shot the two men in the 500 block of 29th Ave. S., just steps away from Anderson-Young's house.

Anderson-Young's mother heard the gunshots, but did not immediately know that her son had been shot a few yards from where she lay in bed.

Grindr's app only shows the amount of distance between two users. The security breach, however, allegedly allows location-based data to be extrapolated by querying Grindr's servers from three different places and triangulating the information received. This data then can be presented on a map with flags indicating where each user within a certain area is located. This is possible because anyone can query Grindr's servers without being authenticated.

Grindr claims this isn't a flaw, but a feature.

The company told Pink News UK, 'We don't view this as a security flaw. As part of the Grindr service, users rely on sharing location information with other users as core functionality of the application and Grindr users can control how this information is displayed.'

'For Grindr users concerned about showing their proximity, we make it very easy for them to remove this option and we encourage them to disable 'show distance' in their privacy settings,' they continued. 'As always, our user security is our top priority and we do our best to keep our Grindr community secure.'

There's a video after the break of the hacker using the information to demonstrate how easy it is to find the real location of app users. To watch the video go to: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5PU1oK-LsCk.

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