A popular social media site, Snapchat, took the app world by storm in 2013, allowing various users of Andriod and Apple products to share pictures that disintegrate within seconds of viewing. Like any social media site, users must create a username, secured by a password, and offer up their birthday and cell phone number to set up the account.
Seem simple enough? At least 30 million users in 2013 thought so. That is, until December 31st when nearly 4.6 million North American snap-chatters had their accounts compromised and information stolen. The security breach gathered account names, passwords and cell phone numbers by accessing the “Find your Friends” function, which allows users to find other users of the app based on the phone numbers in their cell phone contact lists.
In a blog post on Snapchat’s website, the company acknowledged the breach and stated that a new version of the app will be released shortly. This new version will provide users the opportunity to opt-out of the “Find Your Friends” function, essentially giving them the chance to not associate their accounts with a specific phone number and make them unavailable for search via “Find Your Friends.”
Users worried about the privacy of their photos need not worry. “No other information, including Snaps (photos sent via the app) was leaked or accessed in this attack,” the company writes in their blog.
If you’re worried your account has been compromised and your phone number has been leaked, there are a few steps you can take:
-Use this tool by Gibson Security. By entering in your account name, you can verify that your account is still secure.
-Delete your Snapchat account and create a new one with a new username.
-Tighten up your security settings on your existing account, as well as any other social media accounts (Facebook, Twitter, etc.) to prevent strangers from contacting you.
While these are good precautions to take, these steps will not erase your number from the leaked database. If you have any questions or concerns, Snapchat is urging users to email them at firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more scam alerts and business tips, visit the San Diego BBBlog at bbb.org.