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Snapchat’s Security Breach: It Could Have Been Avoided

You’d probably be embarrassed if the ugly selfies you sent on Snapchat were revealed to the world. But what about your phone number? At the very end of 2013, Snapchat was forced to deal with a security breach that led to the release of millions of users information being released. 

Rough End, Rough Beginning

The end of 2013 and the beginning of 2014 has been rough for Snapchat. On Christmas Eve, a security group posted information about personal Snapchat information, as well as a threat to leak information. That leak did indeed happen, right on New Years Eve. That led to the loss of over four million users’ account information, including user names and phone numbers. Snapchat mentioned that no actual Snapchats were released. 

What’s frustrating is that Snapchat was aware of this vulnerability, yet declined to address it, months prior to the attack. The Huffington Post reports that Snapchat was made aware of the issue in August by a company called Gibson Security. In 2014, Snapchat is harshly paying for the consequences of that dismissal. 

Snapchat’s Response

Snapchat has posted entries to their blog about security concerns as well as promises for a security update to be released soon. In an attempt to keep users satisfied, they wrote that they “recently added additional counter-measures and continue to make improvements to combat spam and abuse.” The blog post, written on January 2nd, has left users anxious for an app update that provides them with a safer user experience. 

Users’ Response

I personally haven’t heard much of a response from Snapchat users. Users whose information has been stolen (including me) continue to use the service. Users point out that it could have been worse.

Other users, including myself, are frustrated that Snapchat didn’t fix the problem sooner, especially since they knew about the vulnerability months ago.  

Users seem to agree that they would be much more concerned about their photos leaking rather than their phone number. 

To see if your phone number was leaked, follow this link: http://lookup.gibsonsec.org/lookup

Will you continue to use Snapchat? Are you afraid to trust the app? Let us know in the comments below!

Anne Marie Suchanek

Anne Marie Suchanek

Hi, I'm Anne Marie and I’m a two-time graduate of the iSchool. I received my B.S. in Information Management and Technology in 2013, and then stayed with the iSchool to earn my M.S. in Information Management in 2014 through the Fast Track program. I'm currently working as a Program Manager at Microsoft in Seattle, WA.

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