Security

Snapchat says flood of spam is not a result of its recent hack

Above: 29 percent of Americans think Snapchat will go bust -- or at least lose most of its users -- in 2014.

Image Credit: Snapchat

After dealing with a hack that exposed 4.6 million phone numbers of its users, Snapchat apologized today for an increase in spam on the self-destructing photo app.

Snapchat sends photos and videos to your friends that last a maximum of ten seconds. After those seconds are up, the photos disappear from the receivers’ phones and the company’s servers. But just like on any other social media service, spam is an issue, and with Snapchat, this takes the form of unwanted “snaps,” or photos and videos.

Snapchat blames the increased spam on the company’s own growth and recommends users change their settings to say that “only friends” can send them snaps.

“We’ve heard some complaints over the weekend about an increase in Snap Spam on our service. We want to apologize for any unwanted Snaps and let you know our team is working on resolving the issue,” the company said in a blog post today. “As far as we know, this is unrelated to the Find Friends issue we experienced over the holidays.”

On Christmas Eve, Australian security researchers Gibson Security revealed a vulnerability in Snapchat’s Find Friends feature that would permit anyone to collect millions of usernames and phone numbers as well as create bogus accounts.

Snapchat was aware of the issue as far back as August, but it didn’t take enough measures to secure the feature. After Gibson Security made the vulnerability public, hackers decided to take advantage of the open hole and steal 4.6 million usernames and phone numbers, publishing them to a database called SnapchatDB. They obscured the last two digits of the phone numbers on the public-facing database to minimize spamming.

The hackers said their intention was to draw attention to the vulnerability and later said they’d hand over the uncensored database if the circumstances were right (read: if money was involved).

Last week, Snapchat issued an apology for the hack saying, “Our team continues to make improvements to the Snapchat service to prevent future attempts to abuse our API. We are sorry for any problems this issue may have caused you and we really appreciate your patience and support.”

More about the companies and people from this article:

Snapchat is a photo messaging application developed by four Stanford students. Using the app, users can take photos, record videos, add text and drawings, and send them to a controlled list of recipients. Users set a time limit for how... read more »

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