Online dating. Picture: ISTOCK
Online dating. Picture: ISTOCK

A leading Japanese matchmaking app was hacked, and the personal information of more than 1.7 million account holders has probably been exposed, in the latest high-profile online attack.

Net Marketing, which runs the Omiai dating app, said that it found evidence of unauthorised access to its servers in April. Among the data exposed were photos of IDs used to confirm the age of users, including driver’s licences, insurance cards and passports. Credit card data was not leaked in the hack, the company said on Friday, adding that it had yet to confirm misappropriation of the personal information.

The Omiai app, named after the Japanese word for matchmaking, had 6.8-million accounts in April, according to its monthly report. While free for women, Omiai generates revenue by charging men. It offers plans starting at ¥3,980 for a one-month subscription.

Shares in Net Marketing were set to fall by the daily limit in Tokyo amid a flood of sell orders. The company, which has a market value of about $70m, is listed on the Tokyo Stock Exchange’s First Section.

While Omiai primarily targets users looking for serious relationships, the leak is reminiscent of the hack of adult website AshleyMadison.com in 2015, which exposed the personal data of 37-million users of the site. Ransomware attacks have also been making headlines this month after hackers who targeted Ireland’s health service threatened to publicly release patient data, as well as after the breach of Colonial Pipeline in the US.

Japan’s online matchmaking market has more than doubled in size in the past four years and is expected to grow 70% to ¥106bn by 2025 compared with 2020, according to a study by a unit of CyberAgent, which also operates its own dating app.

Omiai collaborates with local municipalities in Japan, having formed project partnerships with several cities and hosted matchmaking events to encourage people not only to look for partners, but consider moving to rural areas after marriage.

Bloomberg News. For more stories like this visit bloomberg.com

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