Danger level 7
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1,7 Million Snapchat Users Data Allegedly Leaked In Cyber Attack

It is not rare that hackers target big corporations or even state departments to threaten them to leak classified information. This usually happens to make money out of the victims who are pushed into a corner. However, it may also happen with educational purpose or even as a revenge. This time it seems that the latter was at play when Indian hackers tried to show the Snapchat company a lesson for their earlier remark on India being a "poor country." The news of an alleged cyber attack on Snapchat and leaking lots of user information spread like wild fire. The India Times and the Daily Mail were among the first ones to publish about this supposed attack. Of course, no wonder why corporate hacking and data leaking are such big news today; even more so when it comes to Snapchat. But in order for you to understand this, we need to go back in time a bit.

Snapchat is not new to cyber attacks and data leaks at all. As a matter of fact, this company was hit pretty hard at the beginning of 2014 when 4.6 million phone numbers and user names were leaked by the attackers. Back then the hackers claimed that they did not do it for money but they wanted to prove that there were serious security flaws in the application. Although the leaked data were sort of disguised as the last two digits of the phone numbers were each replaced with an "X", it would only take a hundred trials to get the right combination of the user name and phone number combos. This is why such a leak could be devastating for not only the personal users of such an app but also the developer company. In the wrong hands this information can be used to access all other applications linked to the same user name and phone number and further personal and personally identifiable information could be stolen. The leaked information was made publicly available and could be downloaded from torrent sites, for instance. Unfortunately, this data could be used for further attacks if cyber criminals got their hands on them.

It was also in the same year, 2014, that around 200 thousand user photos were leaked, which was due to some third-party programs being compromised. Earlier last year there was yet another cyber attack against Snapchat. This time it was more of a phishing attack really in which the attackers impersonated the CEO of the company and required employee payroll information and got it, too, without any problems. Although this malicious attack "only" affected the workers of Snapchat, it was still rather embarrassing to say the least, two years after the huge data breach. Of course, the company promised to double their security measures and educate their staff better to be prepared for such attacks. Yet, here we are in 2017 and the news of a new breach is out there already spreading. But what is the truth behind it?

Our research into this current cyber attack indicates that the Indian hackers did not really manage to hack into the Snapchat database even if they claimed so and they did not actually leak 1.7 million user data. Instead, they used around 4,000 phone numbers and user names they managed to acquire from the 2014 attack and they practically reused them to fake a new data breach to get back at the Snapchat company for their negative remark on India. Of course, such news travels fast but when you look deeper into the matter you can find the truth below the surface. These cases prove that there is still a lot of ground to cover for IT security specialists to make an application secure and to ensure that all the users can feel safe using them. Let us all hope that such attacks help Snapchat and other companies as well to pay more attention to cyber security in general.

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