Thursday, January 2, 2014

Was your Snapchat account hacked? Check Now!

This is not a happy day for the famous online service Snapchat. Thanks to a gap in the service's security, the phone numbers and usernames for as many as 4.6 million accounts have been downloaded by a Web site calling itself

Image and video hosting by TinyPic

According to the hacker’s statement, people tend to use the same username around the web so you can use this information 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.

The last two digits of the phone numbers are remaining unexposed in order to minimize spam and abuse. 

The hack was seemingly intended to urge Snapchat to tighten its security measures. The anonymous hackers said they used an exploit created by recent changes to the app, which lets users share photos or short videos that disappear after a few seconds.

"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. It is understandable that tech startups have limited resources but security and privacy should not be a secondary goal. Security matters as much as user experience does," the hackers said in a statement to technology blog TechCrunch.

The hack appears to be real, affecting at least one member of the TechCrunch editorial team and possibly Snapchat founder Evan Spiegel himself.

To see whether your account is among the compromised, you can use this basic Web site, whipped up by a couple of developers named Robbie Trencheny and Will Smidlein that simply checks the list for your details. Website:

Snapchat claims that the potential damage from such a hack is insignificant, because it would require a "huge set of phone numbers, like every number in an area code," to match usernames to numbers.

Snapchat CEO Evan Spiegel in November was widely reported to have turned down a $3 billion all-cash takeover offer from Facebook. Do you think now, that he should take the offer?

About Snapchat

Snapchat is a mobile app you can download to your iPhone or Android smartphone, which you can then use to “chat” with friends through photos, videos and captions. You can sort of think of it to be like texting with pictures or videos. One of the most unique things about Snapchat is the “self-destructing” feature for photos a few seconds after photos have been viewed. When you chat with a friend by sending them a photo, the photo is instantly deleted seconds after it’s been opened by the recipient.

The heaviest Snapchat users are teenagers and young adults who submerge themselves in social media and are pretty addicted to their smartphones. Because Snapchat photos self-destruct automatically, a big trend has emerged: sexting via Snapchat. Kids are basically taking provocative photos of themselves and sending to their friends/boyfriends/girlfriends using Snapchat, and they feel more liberal about doing it because they know that those photos get deleted after a few seconds.

Image and video hosting by TinyPic

While the Snapchat hackers have remained anonymous, the Syrian Electronic Army claimed credit for hacking the official blog and social network accounts for Microsoft's Web calling service Skype.

A post published Wednesday on the official Skype blog featured the headline, "Hacked by Syrian Electronic Army. Stop Spying!"

The group also posted the contact information of Steve Ballmer, Microsoft Corp's retiring chief executive, on its Twitter account along with the message, "You can thank Microsoft for monitoring your accounts/emails using this details. #SEA"

That message was an apparent reference to revelations last year by former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden that Skype, which is owned by Microsoft, was part of the NSA's program to monitor communications through some of the biggest U.S. Internet companies.

A message posted on Skype's official Twitter feed this week, apparently by the hacking group, read: "Don't use Microsoft emails (hotmail, outlook), they are monitoring your accounts and selling the data to the governments. More details soon. #SEA". Similar messages were posted on Skype's official Facebook pages and on a blog on its website before being taken down in late afternoon.

Skype acknowledged today it had been hit with a “cyber attack” but said no user information was compromised.

Image and video hosting by TinyPic

Sources and Additional Information:

No comments: