By Aubrey Meadows
January not only welcomed the new year of 2014, but also a major security breach to Snapchat, a popular form of communication amongst kids and young adults. It is reported that 4.6 million users of the app had their phone numbers stolen and posted on to a website called snapchatdb.info. This website has since been suspended.
The breach occurred in response to the company of Snapchat not improving the security even after security experts said it was vulnerable to hackers. Gibson Security warned the company in August and then again on December 25. “Doesn’t seem that responsible to be so nonchalant about it” said Gartner Security analyst Avivah Litan. The breach came less than a week after the second warning from security experts.
So what effect will this have on the company? Regular users of Snapchat were not fazed by this major leak of phone numbers to a public website. “What if they hacked it and found the ugliest pictures and posted them somewhere” joked junior Hana Barhoumi, “what if you were one of them!” Most teenagers seem more amused about possible hacks than the consequences if important personal information is leaked.
The constant use of Snapchat and the fact the pictures and videos are only shown temporarily (maximum time of 10 sec) appeal to younger crowds who wish to keep conversations private. This fun new app has found a place in their lives that was desired but the customers never knew how to convey it into an actual program. The demand for Snapchat outweighs most users’ concerns about how secure it is in protecting their information.
January 9, 2014 marked Snapchat’s official apology to the public about its December data breach that effected 4.6 million usernames and phone numbers.
The full blog post states:
Find Friends Improvements
This morning we released a Snapchat update for Android and iOS that improves Find Friends functionality and allows Snapchatters to opt-out of linking their phone number with their username. This option is available in Settings > Mobile #.
This update also requires new Snapchatters to verify their phone number before using the Find Friends service.
Our team continues to make improvements to the Snapchat service to prevent future attempts to abuse our API. We are sorry for any problems this issue may have caused you and we really appreciate your patience and support.
This short apology might be all users need to move on from this incident, but only time will tell if Snapchat lives up to all they stated in regards to keeping their customers’ personal information safe from hackers.