Snapchat hack of 4.6m users' data prompts the company to release updated app

 

Snapchat has announced plans to release an updated version of its disappearing photo-sharing app after hackers uploaded account information belonging to more than 4.6 million users online.

The data was comprised of usernames and mobile phone numbers with the last two digits redacted, with the hackers claiming that they were working to “raise public awareness on how reckless many internet companies are with user information.”

The situation has been particularly troubling for Snapchat,following claims from Australian-based security group Gibson Security that they informed the company about the vulnerability in their code twice last year.

Snapchat’s relatively sluggish response to the issue (Gibson Security say they contacted the company in August and on Christmas day, before the stolen data was uploaded online by an unknown group on New Year’s day) has led to speculation that the app’s extremely rapid growth has left it unprepared for such a high-profile security breach.

 “The main problem was that they ignored a responsible report by security researchers,” said Christopher Soghoian, principal technologist with the American Civil Liberties Union.

Soghoian noted that it’s common practice for independent experts to expose flaws in technology company’s products, and that large companies such as Google and Microsoft welcome these reports, offering cash bounties for every vulnerability reported.

More on Snapchat: The 23-year- old Snapchat co-founder and CEO who said no to a $3bn offer from Facebook

“Snapchat may be too small to pay bounties, but they certainly should be treating researchers with respect and addressing issues as soon as they are told about them,” he added.

Snapchat was founded in 2011 and currently has no source of revenue, but its ability to attract an estimated userbase of 20 million adult users in the US led to Facebook offering a reported $3bn (£1.8bn) to buy the company in 2013.

Snapchat co-founder and CEO, the 23-year-old Evan Spiegel, turned down the offer and has since attracted significant venture capital investment, with a recent round of funding led by Chinese e-commerce giant Tencent Holdings valuing Snapchat at $4bn.

In a blog post on their site the company confirmed that the vulnerability in their app lay with their recently-added ‘Find Friends’ feature, “an optional service that asks Snapchatters to enter their phone number so that their friends can find their username.”

“We will be releasing an updated version of the Snapchat application that will allow Snapchatters to opt out of appearing in Find Friends after they have verified their phone number,” said the company in an online statement. “We’re also improving rate limiting and other restrictions to address future attempts to abuse our service.”

Additional reporting by agencies

PROMOTED VIDEO
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
Life and Style
ebooksA superb mix of recipes serving up the freshest of local produce in a delicious range of styles
News
people
Arts and Entertainment
Jake Quickenden and Edwina Currie are joining the I'm A Celebrity...Get Me Out Of Here! camp
tv
News
i100
Life and Style
fashion
News
videoJapanese prepare for the afterlife by testing out coffins
Arts and Entertainment
Harrison Ford attends Blade Runner at Target Presents AFI's Night at the Movies at ArcLight Cinemas on 24 April, 2013 in Hollywood, California
film... but Ridley Scott won't direct
Sport
Hughes is hit by a bouncer from Sean Abbott
cricketStephen Brenkley on batsman's tragic flaw that led to critical injury
Sport
Dejected England players applaud the fans following their team's 3-0 defeat
football

News
people

Actress isn't a fan of Ed Miliband

News
The Bounceway, designed by Architecture for Humanity
newsLondon to add 'The Bounceway' to commuting options
Life and Style
Stefan Gates with some mince flies
food + drink
Arts and Entertainment
Rooney Mara plays a white Tiger Lily in forthcoming film Pan
filmFirst look at Rooney Mara in Pan
Life and Style
Customers browse through Vinyl Junkies record shop in Berwick Street, Soho, London
tech
Life and Style
health

Do you qualify – and how do you get it?

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Gadgets & Tech

    Recruitment Genius: Drupal Developer

    Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This consulting firm are searching for an Adva...

    Ashdown Group: IT Support Analyst

    £20000 - £26000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Desktop Support Analyst - Sutton, Su...

    Opilio Recruitment: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

    £15k - 18k per year + Benefits & OTE: Opilio Recruitment: Digital Media, Mob...

    h2 Recruit Ltd: Business Development Manager - IT Outsourcing - £70,000 OTE

    £30000 - £40000 per annum + £70,000 OTE: h2 Recruit Ltd: London, Reading , Sou...

    Day In a Page

    Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: Drifting and forgotten - turning lives around for ex-soldiers

    Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: Turning lives around for ex-soldiers

    Our partner charities help veterans on the brink – and get them back on their feet
    Putin’s far-right ambition: Think-tank reveals how Russian President is wooing – and funding – populist parties across Europe to gain influence in the EU

    Putin’s far-right ambition

    Think-tank reveals how Russian President is wooing – and funding – populist parties across Europe to gain influence in the EU
    Tove Jansson's Moominland: What was the inspiration for Finland's most famous family?

    Escape to Moominland

    What was the inspiration for Finland's most famous family?
    Nightclubbing with Richard Young: The story behind his latest book of celebrity photographs

    24-Hour party person

    Photographer Richard Young has been snapping celebrities at play for 40 years. As his latest book is released, he reveals that it wasn’t all fun and games
    Michelle Obama's school dinners: America’s children have a message for the First Lady

    A taste for rebellion

    US children have started an online protest against Michelle Obama’s drive for healthy school meals by posting photos of their lunches
    Colouring books for adults: How the French are going crazy for Crayolas

    Colouring books for adults

    How the French are going crazy for Crayolas
    Jack Thorne's play 'Hope': What would you do as a local politician faced with an impossible choice of cuts?

    What would you do as a local politician faced with an impossible choice of cuts?

    Playwright Jack Thorne's latest work 'Hope' poses the question to audiences
    Ed Harcourt on Romeo Beckham and life as a court composer at Burberry

    Call me Ed Mozart

    Paloma Faith, Lana del Ray... Romeo Beckham. Ed Harcourt has proved that he can write for them all. But it took a personal crisis to turn him from indie star to writer-for-hire
    10 best stocking fillers for foodies

    Festive treats: 10 best stocking fillers for foodies

    From boozy milk to wasabi, give the food-lover in your life some extra-special, unusual treats to wake up to on Christmas morning
    Phil Hughes head injury: He had one weakness – it has come back to haunt him

    Phil Hughes had one weakness – it has come back to haunt him

    Prolific opener had world at his feet until Harmison and Flintoff bounced him
    'I have an age of attraction that starts as low as four': How do you deal with a paedophile who has never committed a crime?

    'I am a paedophile'

    Is our approach to sex offenders helping to create more victims?
    How bad do you have to be to lose a Home Office contract?

    How bad do you have to be to lose a Home Office contract?

    Serco given Yarl’s Wood immigration contract despite ‘vast failings’
    Green Party on the march in Bristol: From a lost deposit to victory

    From a lost deposit to victory

    Green Party on the march in Bristol
    Putting the grot right into Santa's grotto

    Winter blunderlands

    Putting the grot into grotto
    'It just came to us, why not do it naked?' London's first nude free runner captured in breathtaking images across capital

    'It just came to us, why not do it naked?'

    London's first nude free runner captured in breathtaking images across capital