Reportedly over 4.6 million users of Snapchat, the photo messaging application developed by former Stanford University students, Reggie Brown, Evan Spiegel and Robert Murphy, have had their usernames and phone numbers downloaded by hackers.
The downloaded information was then posted temporarily online at a website called SnapchatDB by the unknown hackers.
Snapchat has now announced that they will release a new version of its app that will allow users to opt out of the “Find Friends” feature, after they have verified their phone number. This feature is the one that was hacked into to obtain the information on millions of users.
The hack has come just days after the Australian firm, Gibson Security, warned that Snapchat was vulnerable to attack with its current security procedures and Snapchat believes that the report made it easier for the attack to come by making the public aware of these possibilities.
Gibson Security said in a tweet that they had nothing to do with the hack but they were not surprised that it had happened because it was so easy.
In a blog last week, Snapchat admitted that “it was possible for an attacker to use the functionality of Find Friends to upload a large number of random phone numbers and match them with Snapchat usernames”. It added that they had since taken measures to ensure it would not happen again.
The hacked information was posted online on New Years Eve but the website has since been suspended. Although the last two digits of the member’s phone numbers had been censored, the hacker said that they could give the uncensored database if certain circumstances were met.
According to the technological news site TechCrunch, the hackers explained to them that they did the hack just to prove that it could be done and to show users just how easy it was to gain their information.
The hackers went on to say that security and privacy should be one of Snapchat’s top priorities and they had done this to put pressure on them to safeguard user data in the future.