Snapchat, You’re Not Invisible. Love, Your Hackers

Source: Andrew Bender / Flickr

Snapchat is celebrating the new year with a good old-fashioned hack. According to the Washington Post, hackers posted a database of 4.6 million usernames and phone numbers of Snapchat users late on Tuesday and made Snapchat customer information available for download on a website called SnapchatDB.info.

In the final days of 2013, Australia-based Gibson Security warned Snapchat about the possibility of a potential hack, explaining on Christmas Day that the app’s Android and iOS API could be hacked to expose user information, but it appears Snapchat executives didn’t heed the warning. According to the Chicago Tribune, Snapchat’s perpetrators say the hack is meant to expose just how vulnerable Snapchat user information really is.

Snapchat is a popular messaging app that lets users send each other photos that quickly disappear. The app has enjoyed significant popularity since its launch last year, but now its executives are being forced to navigate a hack that other social media giants are all too familiar with.

The big problem Snapchat faces is the fact that it was warned of its insufficient security but was too slow to react. After Gibson Security told Snapchat in late December that its customer account information was too accessible, the company wrote a blog post maintaining the issue was no big deal, promising to put up obstacles to make a hack “more difficult to do.”

Unfortunately, it is now all too clear that Snapchat’s efforts weren’t enough, and its customers are paying the price. The Washington Post reports that Snapchat DB is now accusing Snapchat of being unresponsive to Gibson Security’s warnings. Snapchat DB said on its site: “Even now the exploit persists. IT is still possible to scrape this data on a large scale. There latest changes are still not too hard to circumvent.”

Now it’s up to Snapchat to respond. The app’s executives have yet to offer any formal statements in regards to the hack, but Snapchat DB’s site had been suspended as of Wednesday evening. Although Snapchat’s hackers have remained anonymous, the Chicago Tribune reports that the Syrian Electronic Army is taking credit for the hacking of social media accounts for Microsoft’s (NASDAQ:MSFT) Web calling service Skype, so it is possible the hacks could in some way be related.

This is the first time that the popular photo-messaging app has been put under the security spotlight, and the only team that may be celebrating the slip-up is that of Facebook (NASDAQ:FB). The social media giant got its first taste of rejection in late 2013, when Snapchat turned down a $3 billion offer for its photo-messaging application service.

Snapchat currently boasts around 100 million users, and according to Quartz has attracted at least $75 million in venture funding without posting any kind of profit. Analysts expect the app to continue growing at a significant pace, but this latest snafu could still be the end of Snapchat’s coast to the top. Snapchat DB maintains that it just wanted to get Snapchat’s attention, and that it certainly did. Snapchat executives now have no choice but to tighten security and somehow regain user trust.

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