Thursday, April 17, 2014
To ring in the new year, Snapchat experienced a large data breach. On Tuesday night, a hacker published a database reportedly containing 4.6 million Snapchat user names and phone numbers. SnapchatDB, an unofficial site run by an anonymous individual or group, allows open access to files that show details of the app's users alongside their location.
Ugh. Happy New Year.
The hacker first posted the database on Reddit and on a website called SnapchatDB.info. The site has now been taken down, but not before the data spread like wildfire on the Internet. Usernames were shown unedited. SnapchatDB stated, "people tend to use the same username around the web." Those who download the information, it said, can try to "find phone number information associated with Facebook and Twitter accounts, or simply to figure out the phone numbers of people you wish to get in touch with." A Wall Street Journal reporter confirmed that the database was real after spotting his own account information.
SnapchatDB reportedly gained access to the Snapchat data through a vulnerability disclosed by a group of security researchers last week. In a report posted on Christmas Day, Australia-based Gibson Security explained how the app's Android and iOS API could be hacked to expose user information.
Two days later, Snapchat wrote a blog post saying it was no big deal -- that it had put in place some obstacles to "make it more difficult to do."
"We are grateful for the assistance of professionals who practice responsible disclosure," Snapchat said, "and we’ve generally worked well with those who have contacted us." - The Washington Post
Apparently, judging from Tuesday night's debacle, whatever safeguards Snapchat put in place didn't do the trick. If you're a Snapchat user and you're interested in finding out if your information was posted, you can check out this Mashable article, "Use This Tool to Check if Your Snapchat Account Was Compromised."
Makes you think twice about the security of those naked selfies, doesn't it? Let's hope 2014 brings some tighter security for Snapchat.
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Rob works as a digital marketing & public relations consultant to agencies, brands, and individuals. He has 20 years of marketing experience. He also currently serves in a volunteer capacity as director of pr/communications for TEDxDirigo. From 2005-2011, Rob served as director of social media & agency communications at The VIA Agency (Portland). Prior to VIA, Rob worked with several PR & advertising agencies in London & Boston. He is a graduate of The University of Vermont (UVM) and a Maine transplant (2002).
Follow Rob on Twitter at @bobbbyg
His real-life interests include art, travel, writing, design, psychology, the beach, & exercise (grudgingly at times).