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

High performance access to file storage

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. ®

High performance access to file storage

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
Oh no, Joe: WinPhone users already griping over 8.1 mega-update
Hang on. Which bit of Developer Preview don't you understand?
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
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
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?
New Facebook phone app allows you to stalk your mates
Nearby Friends feature goes live in a few weeks
Microsoft TIER SMEAR changes app prices whether devs ask or not
Some go up, some go down, Redmond goes silent
prev story

Whitepapers

Securing web applications made simple and scalable
In this whitepaper learn how automated security testing can provide a simple and scalable way to protect your web applications.
3 Big data security analytics techniques
Applying these Big Data security analytics techniques can help you make your business safer by detecting attacks early, before significant damage is done.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
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.