What’s really ‘Happning’? A forensic analysis of Android and iOS Happn dating apps

What’s really ‘Happning’? A forensic analysis of Android and iOS Happn dating apps

Keywords

Shawn Knox received his Bachelor’s of Business Administration in Cyber Security from UTSA in 2019. In the same year, he has begun pursuing a Master’s of Science in Information Technology with a concentration in Cyber Security. His goals are to expand his knowledge of the cyber security field and apply that knowledge as a security analyst for the big businesses.

Steven Moghadam received his Bachelor’s of Business Administration in both Information Systems and Cyber Security from UTSA in Fall 2019 and has since been pursuing a Master’s of Science in Information Technology with a concentration in Cyber Security. He has been awarded the Department of Defense (DoD) Cyber Scholarship Program (CySP) as part of his Graduate degree, which allows him to further his studies through the master’s escort services in Frisco cyber program. His career goal consists of working as a Cyber Security Specialist for the US Government.

Abstract

With today’s world revolving around online interaction, dating applications (apps) are a prime example of how people are able to discover and converse with others that may share similar interests or lifestyles, including during the recent COVID-19 lockdowns. To connect the users, geolocation is often utilized. However, with each new app comes the possibility of criminal exploitation. For example, while apps with geolocation feature are intended for users to provide personal information that drive their search to meet someone, that same information can be used by hackers or forensic analysts to gain access to personal data, albeit for different purposes. This paper examines the Happn dating app (versions 9.6.2, 9.7, and 9.8 for iOS devices, and versions 3.0.22 and .0 for Android devices), which geographically works differently compared to most notable dating apps by providing users with profiles of other users that might have passed by them or in the general radius of their location. Encompassing both iOS and Android devices along with eight varying user profiles with diverse backgrounds, this study aims to explore the potential for a malicious actor to uncover the personal information of another user by identifying artifacts that may pertain to sensitive user data.

Graphical abstract

Kenny Patrick received his Bachelor’s of Business Administration in Cyber Security from UTSA in . He began pursuing a Master’s of Science in Information Technology at UTSA in . His interests include digital forensics, incident response, software development, and automation.

Anh Kim Phan received her Bachelor’s of Business Administration in Cyber Security from UTSA in 2018 and has since been pursuing a Master’s of Science in Information Technology with a concentration in Cyber Security. She has been awarded the Kudla Endowed Fellowship in Information Assurance and Security as part of her Graduate degree, which allows her to work as a Research Assistant on multiple research projects in the field of Cyber Security. Her career goal consists of working as a Digital Forensic Analyst for the US Government.

Kim-Kwang Raymond Choo holds the Cloud Technology Endowed Professorship at UTSA. In 2016, he was named the Cybersecurity Educator of the Year – APAC, and in 2015 he and his team won the Digital Forensics Research Challenge organized by Germany’s University of Erlangen-Nuremberg. He is the recipient of the 2019 IEEE TC on Scalable Computing’s Award for Excellence in Scalable Computing (Middle Career Researcher), 2018 UTSA College of Business Endowed Research Award for Tenured Faculty, 2018 IEEE Access Outstanding Associate Editor, British Computer Society’s 2019 Wilkes Award Runner-up, 2019 EURASIP JWCN Best Paper Award, Korea Information Processing Society’s JIPS Survey Paper Award (Gold) 2019, IEEE Blockchain 2019 Outstanding Paper Award, IEEE TrustCom 2018 Best Paper Award, ESORICS 2015 Best Research Paper Award, 2014 Highly Commended Award by the Australia New Zealand Policing Advisory Agency, Fulbright Scholarship in 2009, 2008 Australia Day Achievement Medallion, and British Computer Society’s 2018 Wilkes Award.