The startup, Snapchat, which had received a $3 billion dollar buy offer from Facebook, was hacked on New Year’s Eve, according to the L.A. times report Thursday. The Times article is listed online today by Arcamax with the update that the Times was contacted by the hackers.
In an email to The Times, the hackers declined to identify themselves but said that more than one person was involved and that they were from North America and Europe.
‘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 said. ‘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.’
It appears that the hackers see themselves as whistleblowers to weakness in security which has become a popular event occupation since Snowden began his campaign last May.
Snapchat is a photo –messaging app for secrecy of photo transfer. This incident is damaging to the brand image.
The hackers published the information on Snapchatdb.info, censoring the last two digits of users' phone numbers to minimize spam and abuse. But they hinted that they would be willing to release the full numbers ‘under certain circumstances.’
When reached by phone, Snapchat co-founder and Chief Executive Evan Spiegel declined to comment.
The Los Angeles-area company said in a blog post Thursday that ‘no other information, including snaps, was leaked or accessed in these attacks.’
Snapchat also said it would be releasing an updated version of the app and was implementing other restrictions ‘to address future attempts to abuse our service.’
The cyberattacks and steal of phone numbers is not the highest security breech because it is not sensitive information. It can however ruin the brand image and drive business away.
The startup has become a runaway hit with users, who use the app to send images to friends that disappear after a few seconds. Snapchat has become so popular -- more than 400 million snaps are sent a day which is a reason for the Facebook interest and offer.
The owners at the time of the offer felt the company to be worth more than the offer amount. This type of cyberattack is serious for the future of Snapchat and any future offers.
Snapchat was warned by a group called Gibson Security on Christmas Eve that its app contained a security flaw that could expose its users in the exact way that the hackers managed to do.
On Dec. 27, Snapchat acknowledged the vulnerability in a blog post but downplayed the seriousness of the security hole.
The downplay of vulnerability on the blog post clearly shows that security measures weren't enough, said Lucas Zaichkowsky, a security expert for cyber incident response company AccessData.
Teenagers are now wary of the app. Zaichkowsky recommends users apply different passwords for Snapchat than their Facebook or bank accounts.
He said Snapchat and its users were lucky that no passwords were published, but the attack does make Snapchat an attractive target for criminal hackers. The next attempt maybe more penetrating.
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