Skip to main content

Millions of accounts compromised in Snapchat hack

Doug Gross, CNN
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • A hacker group says it accessed info for 4.6 million Snapchat users
  • The group, SnapchatDB, urged the app to tighten security
  • They said the last two digits in phone numbers were blurred
  • Snapchat lets users share photos and videos

(CNN) -- Hackers appear to have posted account info for 4.6 million users of quickie social-sharing app Snapchat, making usernames and at least partial phone numbers available for download.

The data were posted to the website SnapchatDB.info. By late Wednesday morning, that site had been suspended.

The hack was seemingly intended to urge Snapchat to tighten its security measures. The anonymous hackers said they used an exploit created by recent changes to the app, which lets users share photos or short videos that disappear after a few seconds.

"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. 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," the hackers said in a statement to technology blog TechCrunch.

Millions compromised in Snapchat hack
Snapchat's $3 billion blunder?

In the statement, the hackers said they blurred the last two digits of the phone numbers they posted but were still considering whether to post more with the full number visible.

By Wednesday afternoon, developers had used the data to set up a website letting Snapchat users find out whether their accounts had been compromised.

Snapchat did not immediately respond to a message seeking comment.

Last week, Gibson Security -- a group of "white hat" hackers, meaning they don't exploit the security gaps they find -- published what they said was code that would enable such a hack. The SnapchatDB group said Snapchat implemented "very minor obstacles" after that.

"We know nothing about SnapchatDB, but it was a matter of time til something like that happened," Gibson Security wrote Wednesday on its Twitter account. "Also the exploit works still with minor fixes."

In a blog post Friday, Snapchat appeared to minimize the potential damage from such a hack, claiming that it would require a "huge set of phone numbers, like every number in an area code," to match usernames to numbers.

"Over the past year we've implemented various safeguards to make it more difficult to do. We recently added additional counter-measures and continue to make improvements to combat spam and abuse," the post read. "Happy Snapping!"

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
October 21, 2014 -- Updated 0102 GMT (0902 HKT)
A 15-year-old pregnant girl is rescued from slavery, only to be charged with having sex outside of marriage, shocked rights activists say -- a charge potentially punishable by death.
October 22, 2014 -- Updated 0333 GMT (1133 HKT)
After sushi and ramen, beef is on the list of must-eats for many visitors to Japan.
October 20, 2014 -- Updated 1607 GMT (0007 HKT)
Airports judged on comfort, conveniences, cleanliness and customer service.
October 22, 2014 -- Updated 1748 GMT (0148 HKT)
Scientists use CT scans to recreate a life-size image of the ancient king.
October 22, 2014 -- Updated 0959 GMT (1759 HKT)
Despite billions spent on eradicating poppy production, Afghan farmers are growing bumper crops, a U.S. government report says.
October 20, 2014 -- Updated 1319 GMT (2119 HKT)
With so many new attractions on the way, the next few years are going to be a roller coaster ride.
October 16, 2014 -- Updated 0429 GMT (1229 HKT)
Thomas Malthus famously predicted that rising populations would create a food crunch: Could this be true?
October 21, 2014 -- Updated 0945 GMT (1745 HKT)
The lives of everyone close to Oscar Pistorius and the girl he killed are changed forever, his siblings say.
October 22, 2014 -- Updated 1402 GMT (2202 HKT)
Gene Simmons reflects on 40 years of KISS, and how even rock royalty needs sound business principles.
October 18, 2014 -- Updated 1033 GMT (1833 HKT)
From "Sick Man of Europe" to the world's fourth largest economy.
October 22, 2014 -- Updated 0915 GMT (1715 HKT)
Each day, CNN brings you an image capturing a moment to remember, defining the present in our changing world.
Browse through images from CNN teams around the world that you don't always see on news reports.
ADVERTISEMENT