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article imageSnapchat launches hurried update after attack

By Tim Sandle     Jan 3, 2014 in Technology
Snapchat is set to release a hasty updated version of its app after hackers downloaded usernames and phone numbers for 4.6 million accounts.
Snapchat is a photo messaging application. Using the app, users can take photos, record videos, add text and drawings, and send them to a controlled list of recipients. These sent photographs and videos are known as "Snaps." Users set a time limit for how long recipients can view their Snaps (from one to 10 seconds), after which they will be hidden from the recipient's device and deleted from Snapchat's servers.
The software hit the news this week because, as the Digital Journal reported, the usernames and phone numbers for 4.6 million Snapchat accounts have been downloaded by hackers, who posted the data on a website that is now suspended.
Snapchat acknowledged in a blogpost 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."
The security flaw was originally detected by the company Gibson Security, who highlighted a flaw which could be used to reveal the phone numbers of users.
In a move to critics and concerned users, the update will allow users to opt out of appearing in its feature, Find Friends, after they have verified their phone number. The Find Friends feature allows users to upload their address book contacts, and this was the weak area which allowed hackers to exploit the software and the extract data.
Snapchat has said in a statement that, along with allowing users to opt out of appearing in Find Friends, it will improve "other restrictions to address future attempts to abuse our service."
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