This New Year has already been a headache for two big names in tech.
A hacker website reportedly posted the usernames and partial phone numbers of 4.6 million Snapchat users yesterday. In an apparently unrelated attack, Skype's official social-media accounts were also hacked, with messages posted by the Syrian Electronic Army.
Snapchat's security saga began on Christmas Day. Gibson Security, or GibsonSec, a security research group, released a report disclosing Snapchat's potential security weaknesses, including issues with the Find Friends feature. Snapchat brushed off the concerns, writing on its blog two days later that the company had previously implemented "various safeguards" to prevent security risks.
Turns out, Snapchat wasn't as secure as it assumed it was. On New Year's Eve, a website called SnapchatDB.info was launched, claiming to have used the information from GibsonSec's report to hack the app and gain access to Snapchat users' personal information. SnapchatDB's website allowed anyone to access 4.6 million Snapchat users' usernames and phone numbers (with the final two digits censored).
While the SnapchatDB.info website was suspended by the evening of Jan. 1, the hackers claim their goal was purely educational. "It is understandable that tech startups have limited resources but security and privacy should not be a secondary goal," SnapchatDB said in a statement released to TechCrunch. "Security matters as much as user experience does."
In a seemingly unrelated attack, Skype was apparently hacked by the Syrian Electronic Army on Jan. 1.
The hackers posted on Skype's official Twitter, "Don't use Microsoft emails (Hotmail, outlook), They are monitoring your accounts and selling the data to the government. More details soon. #SEA." Similar messages appeared on Skype's official Facebook pages and blog. The group also posted the contact information of Steve Ballmer, Microsoft's retiring chief executive, on its Twitter account.
In the past, the Syrian Electronic Army has targeted social media accounts of media companies and public figures including the Associated Press, CNN and President Obama.