Nation & World News

Alleged Hackers Explain Reasons For Posting Snapchat Data

By Bill Chappell on January 2nd, 2014

After millions of Snapchat usernames and other data were posted online, a group is saying it revealed the partial phone numbers and other information because the social-sharing service didn’t do enough to increase its security. The popular service allows users to send images that vanish 10 seconds after they’re seen.

Some 4.6 million Snapchat usernames and matching phone numbers were published online late Tuesday, a week after the hacking research group Gibson Security posted instructions for how to access Snapchat users’ information. The data were posted online this week — minus the final two digits of all the phone numbers.

Snapchat had previously acknowledged the vulnerability, which Gibson Security says it pointed out in August. The security group says it did not retrieve the data that were posted this week.

Others have claimed responsibility for the leak. And they told The Verge what they were thinking:

” ‘Our motivation behind the release was to raise the public awareness around the issue, and also put public pressure on Snapchat to get this exploit fixed,’ they say. ‘Security matters as much as user experience does.’ ”

The hacking “exploit” that exposed users’ data relies on a feature in Snapchat that lets people find their friends by comparing their phone’s contacts list against phone numbers that are already registered with the service.

On Dec. 27, the company said that in theory, “a huge set of phone numbers, like every number in an area code, or every possible number in the U.S.” could be submitted, which could then yield a large list of matching usernames.

Those remarks come from a blog post in which Snapchat — which has reportedly rejected multibillion-dollar purchase offers from Google and Facebook — said it had taken several steps to improve security. The company has not posted an update on the issue.

“The linking of phone numbers to usernames in accounts from major cities within the United States and Canada is a private information disaster that could have been avoided if the company had acted when repeatedly warned,” ZDNet reports. “Gibson Security told ZDNet that fixing the threat would have only cost Snapchat ten lines of code.”

If you’re a Snapchat user who wants to see if your account was affected, you might want to consult a page posted by Gibson Security today that lets you compare a username against the exposed database.

The page also includes instructions about next steps. They include deleting a Snapchat account and getting a new phone number.

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

This entry was posted in News from NPR. Bookmark the permalink.

Comments are closed.

 

More Stories in News from NPR

A burned-out car sits in front of a ruined house in this photo taken Sunday near Pateros, Washington. Large fires have destroyed hundreds of homes in the state this month.

Obama Declares Emergency As Huge Fires Burn In Washington State

Fire crews have been battling several major fires in central and eastern Washington, including one that stretched over 250,000 acres.


GM Recalls Nearly 718,000 Vehicles For ‘Varying Safety Issues’

GM says no deaths and only two crashes have been linked to the recalls. While many of the vehicles have relatively minor issues, thousands of others have potential problems with their steering.


Rescue crews work on the wreckage of TransAsia Airways Flight GE222, which crashed while attempting to land in stormy weather on the Taiwanese island of Penghu, late Wednesday.

Plane Crash In Taiwan Kills Dozens, Leaving Some Survivors

A Taiwanese domestic flight that was attempting to land in bad weather related to a strong typhoon crashed near the runway Wednesday on an island off Taiwan’s western coast.


Nazi War Crimes Suspect Dies In U.S. One Day Before Extradition Order

A Philadelphia judge issued an order today granting a request for Johann “Hans” Breyer to be extradited to Germany. But Breyer’s lawyer said the 89-year-old former Auschwitz guard died Tuesday.


FAA Extends Ban On Flights To Tel Aviv For Another 24 Hours

The Federal Aviation Administration banned flights to the region on Tuesday after a rocket landed about a mile from Ben Gurion International Airport.


Thank you for your support

WUFT depends on the support of our community — people like you — to help us continue to provide quality programming to North Central Florida.
Become a Sustainer
I want to support FM 89.1/NPR
I want to support Florida's 5/PBS
Donate a Vehicle
Day Sponsorship Payments
Underwriting Payments