Another day, another social networking site hacked. This time, unfortunately, it was new internet darling SnapChat that was breached, exposing over four million mobile numbers and user names. The hacker(s) who published the data did so purportedly to compel Snapchat to take action on security flaws in its platform that have been known since earlier in the year, but remained unpatched up to (and even past) the public release on Dec 31, 2013 of the information harvested by exploiting the security flaws.
What this means for you:
SnapChat is very popular with younger generations who moved to the service for a variety of reasons, not the least of which was more privacy (from Facebook-savvy parents and authority figures) and less permanence (Snaps are deleted forever within seconds of being shared). Irony aside, the data exposed in the security breach reveals sensitive personal data from millions of individuals, many of whom are probably minors, a demographic that may include your child(ren).
You can check this website to see if any of your family’s mobile numbers were leaked by this SnapChat hack. While the data released isn’t as sensitive as bits like Social Security numbers, birthdates or debit card pins, some other services do use mobile numbers as identifying data, alongside usernames which many people (including Snapchat teens) like to re-use as part of their online “brand.” Armed even with these slender morsels, clever social engineers can wedge their way into someone’s online presence and use it as a stepping off point for a complete takeover of an identity, leading to credit fraud, theft and much, much worse.