Feeds

Slurped self-destruct selfie slinger Snapchat so sore, suddenly says sorry

Finally touts update for security hole that didn't hang around for just 10 seconds

Combat fraud and increase customer satisfaction

The brains behind self-destructing selfies app Snapchat have apologized, and claimed to have now tackled security vulnerabilities that exposed millions of people's phone numbers.

The startup has released an update for its iOS and Android applications that allows users to opt out of appearing in the find-a-friend search feature, which lets people add pals to their Snapchat contacts book using their cellphone numbers.

This service was abused by whistleblowers who used software to harvest the usernames and numbers of 4.6 million people; a partially redacted copy of the data was dumped online as proof that the system was flawed by design. The apps are primarily used by flirty youngsters to send compromising photos of each other, the pics appearing for just a few seconds on the recipient's screen (unless they've learned how to take a screenshot or use a camera).

As well as providing an opt-out switch today, Snapchat has a new mechanism for thwarting automated mass-slurping of account information: you must be logged in, and your cell number verified (presumably by text message), before you can use the "Find Friends" search. Access to this feature is also rate limited – which forces attackers to create a large batch of accounts all tied to real phone numbers in order to reap Snapchat's database again.

"Our team continues to make improvements to the Snapchat service to prevent future attempts to abuse our API," the outfit said in a blog post announcing the update.

"We are sorry for any problems this issue may have caused you and we really appreciate your patience and support."

That apology is the first from Team Snapchat on the matter. It was earlier criticized for being unapologetic and dismissive after researchers privately and then publicly warned of the security flaws. Only after the 4.6 million-row database was partially published online did the selfie-sharing crew confirm that a fix was in the works. ®

3 Big data security analytics techniques

More from The Register

next story
This time it's 'Personal': new Office 365 sub covers just two devices
Redmond also brings Office into Google's back yard
Inside the Hekaton: SQL Server 2014's database engine deconstructed
Nadella's database sqares the circle of cheap memory vs speed
Microsoft lobs pre-release Windows Phone 8.1 at devs who dare
App makers can load it before anyone else, but if they do they're stuck with it
Oh no, Joe: WinPhone users already griping over 8.1 mega-update
Hang on. Which bit of Developer Preview don't you understand?
Half of Twitter's 'active users' are SILENT STALKERS
Nearly 50% have NEVER tweeted a word
Internet-of-stuff startup dumps NoSQL for ... SQL?
NoSQL taste great at first but lacks proper nutrients, says startup cloud whiz
Batten down the hatches, Ubuntu 14.04 LTS due in TWO DAYS
Admins dab straining server brows in advance of Trusty Tahr's long-term support landing
IRS boss on XP migration: 'Classic fix the airplane while you're flying it attempt'
Plus: Condoleezza Rice at Dropbox 'maybe she can find ... weapons of mass destruction'
Ditch the sync, paddle in the Streem: Upstart offers syncless sharing
Upload, delete and carry on sharing afterwards?
prev story

Whitepapers

Top three mobile application threats
Learn about three of the top mobile application security threats facing businesses today and recommendations on how to mitigate the risk.
Combat fraud and increase customer satisfaction
Based on their experience using HP ArcSight Enterprise Security Manager for IT security operations, Finansbank moved to HP ArcSight ESM for fraud management.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Five 3D headsets to be won!
We were so impressed by the Durovis Dive headset we’ve asked the company to give some away to Reg readers.
SANS - Survey on application security programs
In this whitepaper learn about the state of application security programs and practices of 488 surveyed respondents, and discover how mature and effective these programs are.