News Column

Skype, Snapchat Apps Hit by Breach

January 2, 2014

By Nancy Blair and Brett Molina, USA TODAY

Snapchat and Skype say their apps were breached by hackers.
Snapchat and Skype say their apps were breached by hackers.

A pair of popular tech services are having a difficult start to the New Year.

Some of Skype's social media accounts may have been breached. And several million usernames and phone numbers for the mobile messaging service Snapchat were apparently leaked online late Tuesday night.

Several outlets including The Verge reported that 4.6 million usernames and phone numbers were posted as a downloadable database by so-far anonymous hackers. The site where the database was posted appeared to be down Wednesday morning.

Snapchat warned of this potential scenario days prior in a blog post, saying a security group had alerted it about a vulnerability "by which one could compile a database of Snapchat usernames and phone numbers."

Snapchat is a popular messaging app that lets users send one another photos that quickly disappear.

In its Dec. 27 blog post, Snapchat described how its Find Friends feature allows users to upload their contact lists to Snapchat as a way of linking up friends. The company said it had implemented safeguards making an exploit "more difficult to do."

Meanwhile, the official blog and social network accounts for Microsoft's Web-calling service Skype appear to have been breached. A post published Wednesday on the official Skype blog featured the headline, "Hacked by Syrian Electronic Army.. Stop Spying!"

A pair of tweets attributed to the SEA were posted on Skype's official Twitter account. "Stop Spying on People! via Syrian Electronic Army," reads a portion of one tweet. Skype's Facebook page hosted the message: "Don't use Microsoft emails (hotmail, outlook), They are monitoring your accounts and selling it to the governments," with "#SEA."

The Facebook message was deleted, while the company's blogs redirect visitors to the Skype home page.

Skype later said: "We recently became aware of a targeted cyber attack that led to access to Skype's social media properties, but these credentials were quickly reset. No user information was compromised."

Snapchat did not comment.

The breaches are the latest in what has become a growing problem for Web services, retailers and consumers. Last month, Target reported the theft of some 40 million credit and debit cards used in its stores from Black Friday through Dec. 15.

Contributing: Jon Swartz

Original headline: 2 tech apps hit by breach

Source: Copyright 2014 USA TODAY

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