Snapchat to be updated following exposure of user accounts

Find Friends Abuse

 Millions of Snapchat user names and phone numbers were briefly published on a public website earlier this week, and now the creators of the popular messaging app claim that an update is in the works that should make it harder for such information to be exposed.

Snapchat

When we first built Snapchat, we had a difficult time finding other friends that were using the service. We wanted a way to find friends in our address book that were also using Snapchat – so we created Find Friends.

Find Friends is an optional service that asks Snapchatters to enter their phone number so that their friends can find their username. This means that if you enter your phone number into Find Friends, someone who has your phone number in his or her address book can find your username.

A security group first published a report about potential Find Friends abuse in August 2013. Shortly thereafter, we implemented practices like rate limiting aimed at addressing these concerns. On Christmas Eve, that same group publicly documented our API, making it easier for individuals to abuse our service and violate our Terms of Use.

We acknowledged in a blog post last Friday 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. On New Years Eve, an attacker released a database of partially redacted phone numbers and usernames. No other information, including Snaps, was leaked or accessed in these attacks.

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.

We want to make sure that security experts can get ahold 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: security@snapchat.com.

The Snapchat community is a place where friends feel comfortable expressing themselves and we’re dedicated to preventing abuse. 

Community Guidelines

Snapchat is about sharing moments and having fun. Our goal in creating these rules is to accommodate the broadest range of self expression while balancing the need for Snapchatters to be able to use our service safely and enjoyably.

Don’t send people Snaps they don’t want to receive—especially if the Snap is mean.

Be thoughtful about what you Snap and whom you send it to. It’s okay with us if someone takes a screenshot, but we can’t speak for you or your friends. Snapchat attempts to detect screenshots and notify the sender, but it doesn’t always work perfectly – and your friend can always capture the image with a camera.

Keep it legal. Don’t use Snapchat for any illegal shenanigans and if you’re under 18 or are Snapping with someone who might be: keep your clothes on!

What not to Snap:

  • Nudity or sexually suggestive content involving minors (people under the age of 18)
  • Minors engaged in activities that are physically dangerous and harmful
  • Invasions of privacy
  • Threats
  • Harassment or Bullying
  • Impersonation
  • Self-Harm

If your account settings allow “everyone” to view your Stories, and you post a Story that is not suitable for sensitive viewers (but does not otherwise violate these rules), other Snapchatters may be shown a “sensitive content” warning before viewing your Stories.

Violating these rules may result in the removal of content, the suspension of your account and being prohibited from using Snapchat in the future.

Please take these rules seriously and honor them in the spirit in which they are intended. The rules will change and evolve along with the Snapchat user community. We will do our best to enforce them consistently and fairly, and ultimately we’ll try to do what we think is best in each situation, at our own discretion.

Team Snapchat

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