Security Tips and Best Practices



Here are the main things to watch out for and improve to enhance LGBTQI users while using the dating applications and platforms. This includes device security, adapting to the strongest possible app/platform security, and users’ behavior.

1. Update your device regularly

It’s crucial that you keep your devices’ software (smartphone and laptop) regularly updated. The software updates include fixes for bugs and vulnerabilities in your device, and not downloading these updates regularly will leave your device, and consequently your private data, vulnerable to hackers and cyber attacks. Refrain from downloading unnecessary apps as that creates more avenues to gain access to your device and personal information.

2. Mask your IP

Using trusted VPNs gives you privacy and establishes a secure and encrypted connection, which protects you from IP loggers that collect data like your IP address, location, device type and model, which can be used to identify you. It is also advisable not to use Wi-Fi hotspots in public places because they often are not secure. The Tor browser is recommended as a way to anonymize your online browsing.

3. Protect personal data on your phone

You have to set up a strong PIN code or long passphrase on your phone. Avoid fingerprints or face recognition as you might be forced into unlocking your phone. Setting up a PIN code or long passphrase to lock your phone is a better alternative.

Some dating apps like Grindr allow you to change the icon of the app in order to hide it. We advise you to utilize these features, because in some contexts, having the app alone on your phone is a reason for persecution in case of police entrapment.

It’s also advised to always delete any explicit conversations, photos and videos. Some phones allow you to set a password on photo albums, or hide photos altogether, we advise taking such measures to protect your data in case your phone is lost, or falls in the wrong hands. For messaging purposes, we recommend Signal as an end-to-end encrypted app with timer capabilities to automatically delete texts, images and other multimedia to ensure greater safety.

4. Set up remote delete/wipe for your smartphone

Your phone has a great deal of private and sensitive information about you and others, and if it falls in the wrong hands, it will leave you and others vulnerable to persecution, extortion or blackmail. With that said, it is highly advisable to enable features that allow you to wipe your phone remotely to avoid any risks.

5. Always have 2-Factor-Authentication on all apps

This includes Ahwaa which has 2FA capabilities as well - we also strongly encourage you to use a security key like YubiKey in order to take 2FA further with additional security mechanisms.

6. Protect your physical identity

Don’t post your personal information, photos of your face or any of your distinct features on your public profile. Be careful of people who try to immediately get your real name, address, phone number or social media accounts. There is always a chance that the person you’re talking to is an undercover police, fake profile or a sextortionist.

7. Know your legal grounds

Keep yourself informed about the laws related to homosexuality or any other laws that apply and can be used against you in your country. Get information from a trusted lawyer or a local LGBTQI+ organization, and get practical advice on what to do in case of arrest and who you can reach out to. It’s always good to have the contacts of lawyers and local queer or human rights organizations that you can contact. The golden rule is that if you are arrested, do not confess to anything or sign any papers before you have access to a lawyer.

8. Don’t give in to blackmail and extortion

Blackmailers and extortionists count on your fear to submit and give in to what they are asking for. Ask a close friend for help, or speak to a trusted lawyer or a local human rights organization that can intervene and report the blackmailer and extortionists to protect you. This is a difficult and stressful situation that can be prevented if the necessary precautions are taken on a consistent basis.

9. Meet in a public or safe space, and let a friend know where you are

When you decide to meet, always do so in a public and safe place, like an LGBTQI friendly cafe. Avoid meeting at remote and empty streets or neighborhoods, and always let a friend know where you’re going and agree on safewords that you can text them if you feel unsafe.

10. Avoid using the dating apps and platforms during critical times

Entrapment, extortion and blackmail through dating apps and platforms rapidly increase in times of crackdown on the LGBTQI communities. If you hear of recurring arrests of LGBTQI community members, or if the police cracked down on a LGBTQI event, try to stay off of the dating apps until things calm down and it’s relatively safer again. Any activities you engage in should be completely under the radar to avoid arrest or interrogation.

Staying Safe on Dating and LGBTQI+ Apps