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Application Security

1/3/2014
11:56 AM
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Snapchat Breach: What's Next

App vendor planning new version that lets users opt out of appearing in beleaguered 'Find Friends' feature.

Snapchat, a mobile photo-messaging app created for wiping out traces of the messages for privacy reasons, this week was hit with a major breach of its users' privacy that exposed names and phone numbers of some 4.6 million of its customers. The data dump came after security researchers published a proof-of-concept for a weakness associated with the "Find Friends" feature.

The app provider late Thursday announced that it would update Snapchat to better protect its users. "We will be releasing an updated version of the Snapchat application that will allow Snapchatters to opt out of appearing in Find Friends after they have verified their phone number. We’re also improving rate limiting and other restrictions to address future attempts to abuse our service," Snapchat said in a blog post.

Snapchat also said researchers could email the firm at [email protected] for any vulnerability discoveries. "We want to make sure that security experts can get a hold of us when they discover new ways to abuse our service so that we can respond quickly to address those concerns. The best way to let us know about security vulnerabilities is by emailing us: [email protected]," Snapchat said.

The blog post came in response to criticism by the researchers who first reported and then published details on the flaw in Snapchat's app after saying they had not gotten a response from Snapchat. A hacker group on Wednesday exploited the flaw and posted online to a site called SnapchatDB the names and phone numbers, with the final two digits obscured, on some 2.6 million Snapchat users.

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Kristin Burnham
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Kristin Burnham,
User Rank: Apprentice
1/7/2014 | 3:30:43 PM
Re: Worry more about Google and Facebook hacks
@DanielCawrey -- what about Snapchat appeals to you? I've used it -- and was amused  -- but it seems like an app that's bigger among teens.
danielcawrey
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danielcawrey,
User Rank: Apprentice
1/6/2014 | 2:32:59 PM
Re: Worry more about Google and Facebook hacks
I think SnapChat has a ton of potential.

That being said, they've got to minimize these PR problems. Set up a bug bounty program like Google does. Enough said. 
PaulS681
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PaulS681,
User Rank: Apprentice
1/5/2014 | 6:23:14 PM
Re: Worry more about Google and Facebook hacks
Good point Chris. I would say Facebook is hacking its own users. They give you a choice to opt out of collecting certain data and they collect it any way no matter what you choose. Then they come out with a "ohh, we are sorry" bs.
PaulS681
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PaulS681,
User Rank: Apprentice
1/5/2014 | 6:19:53 PM
Snapchat
 Unfortunately breaches are becoming so common it just isn't surprising anymore. Kind of like football players getting caught for steroid use.

I see that snapchat didn't act on the researchers findings but is that cause for the researchers to publish the flaw so hackers will do it? I guess that is one way to get them to fix it.
asksqn
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asksqn,
User Rank: Ninja
1/4/2014 | 6:33:39 PM
Saddle up and ride smart
This latest high profile hack just underscores the inherent insecurity of 99% of the mobile apps currently available. In the mobile app world, the consumer is forced to agree to a my-way-or-the-highway TOS -either you agree to give the app carte blanche to your device, or it simply will not install.  Google Android latest version had a chance to redeem itself and allow the user to control which apps phoned home (which has been a feature of iPhones for some time now) but Google, inexplicably, instead, chose to yoink away control of the user's device from the user in a follow up update to the OS. Then gave some happy sounding but ultra lame PR newsbyte about how this feature was a bad idea.  Bottom line:  when it comes to mobile apps and security breaches, it's the wild, wild west out there, people. 
chrisp114
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chrisp114,
User Rank: Apprentice
1/4/2014 | 4:50:59 PM
Worry more about Google and Facebook hacks
I'm sure they'll fix the problem, but what about when Google or Facebook gets hacked? Just think about all of the personal information they collect about you. This isn't limited to information you give them. They track your browsing history and have information about every website you visit. When that information gets hacked and distributed to your friends, family, and colleagues, then you will be ruined. This is why I'm a strong advocate for using privacy-based sites such as DuckDuckGo, Ravetree, HushMail, SnapChat, etc.
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