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Friday, January 3, 2014

Snapchat Warned Before Hack About Vulnerability

Snapchat, the photo messaging service, says it plans to offer a more secure version of its application.

This comes after a security breach in which hackers published the names and phone numbers of 4.6 million users online.

Snapchat CEO Evan Spiegel poses for photos in Los Angeles, Oct. 24, 2013. (Jae C. Hong/AP)

Snapchat CEO Evan Spiegel poses for photos in Los Angeles, Oct. 24, 2013. (Jae C. Hong/AP)

Gibson Security, an Australian security firm conducted a thorough review of Snapchat and warned the company the security vulnerability prior to the breach.

Snapchat posted a statement on its website explaining the breach that reads in part:

When we first built Snapchat, we had a difficult time finding other friends that were using the service. We wanted a way to find friends in our address book that were also using Snapchat – so we created Find Friends. Find Friends is an optional service that asks Snapchatters to enter their phone number so that their friends can find their username. This means that if you enter your phone number into Find Friends, someone who has your phone number in his or her address book can find your username.

A security group first published a report about potential Find Friends abuse in August 2013. Shortly thereafter, we implemented practices like rate limiting aimed at addressing these concerns. On Christmas Eve, that same group publicly documented our API, making it easier for individuals to abuse our service and violate our Terms of Use.

Marty Schenker, the executive editor of Bloomberg News, joins Here & Now’Meghna Chakrabarti to discuss Snapchat’s response to the security breach.

Guest

  • Marty Schenker, executive editor of Top News for Bloomberg. He tweets @mschenker.

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Robin Young and Jeremy Hobson host Here & Now, a live two-hour production of NPR and WBUR Boston.

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