The large scale security breach suffered by Snapchat came as no surprise.
The team behind the runaway success messaging app had been warned as far back as August last year that there was a major hole in its system.
It claims it addressed those issues then, beefing-up security so that punters could rest easy.
Clearly, it wasn’t enough, with hackers able to crack the code and dump 4.6 million users’ phone numbers on the web.
Snapchat has said it’s working on an update and is aiming to bring in a new feature which will limit the use of the Find Friends feature, which was at the core of the problem.
Find Friends uses its customer base’s phone numbers to track down people using Snapchat.
The fact that Snapchat breached users trust by failing to secure this data properly (despite laying this at the door of the hackers, this is the crux of the issue) points to a wider issue, one that all smartphone users need to address.
It’s talked about a lot, but we really have become slack with our data.
Single sign–on via Facebook and Google has made us lazy, with few asking who is accessing our social media data to sell stuff to us.
Moreover, are we being smart enough about whom we impart this information to?
Or are we happy to stick everything into the public domain and trust that our stuff will be safe?
Snapchat’s failings could seriously impact on its ability to grow.
It’s well documented that its founder, Evan Spiegel, turned down a billion-dollar offer from Facebook.
But with this breach, it’s lost the trust of its users.
That’s even more of a big deal for Snapchat, seeing as the app is based around the idea of your images being deleted mere seconds after they’re seen by a recipient.
Snapchat was quick to say that those pics or ‘Snaps’ were not leaked online. But it raises the question – could that happen?
Those images are saved on its servers, but you can’t get hold of them.
What Mark Zuckerberg wanted when he offered Spiegel billions was not just his app.
He wanted this data too. And the illusion of safety Snapchat provides means that average users haven’t considered such a worrying turn of events.
This whole episode shows we need to be much less trusting with our phone numbers, passwords and personal information.
Whether it’s handing over details to a startup like Snapchat, or shovelling information into Facebook which can then be accessed via single sign–on for other services, it’s high time we all stepped back and started being a lot more careful.