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Skype and Snapchat tweak security after being hacked

by CAROLINE GAVURA Section Editor

Hackers, in two separate attacks, posted 4.6 million names and numbers of Snapchat users, and posted messages on social media accounts run by Skype.

In the Snapchat scenario, a website called was posted on December 31, containing Snapchat customer information that was available for download. The hackers who made the website claimed they were trying to expose how vulnerable Snapchat users’ data really is.

Snapchat had warned users about the possibility of being hacked after being alerted by a security group.

The company released a statement saying, “We don’t display the phone numbers to other users and we don’t support the ability to look up phone numbers based on someone’s username. Theoretically, if someone were able to upload a huge set of phone numbers, like every number in an area code, or every possible number in the U.S., they could create a database of the results and match usernames to phone numbers.”

The hackers did just that, creating the website, which was a perfect example of what Snapchat had described, and it was not shut down until January 1.

Snapchat is the fun app where people are able to send their friends pictures that quickly disappear. One of the options users are able to do to find friends who use Snapchat is upload their contact list from their phone. Snapchat has now created safeguards on features of the app like this, so it is harder to hack.

“Hearing about this makes me not want to use Snapchat anymore. It is so hard to have privacy on the internet especially with social media. Apps like Snapchat really need to step their game up when it comes to security,” says senior Kelsey Rudowitz.

Although Snapchat’s hackers are anonymous, the Syrian Electronic Army had no problem claiming that they were the ones who had hacked Skype.

The group first posted on the official Skype blog with the headline, “Hacked by Syrian Electronic Army…Stop Spying!”

They then posted the personal contact information of Microsoft’s chief executive Steve Ballmer on Skype’s Twitter account with the message, “You can thank Microsoft for monitoring your accounts/emails using [these] details. #SEA

This message may have been referring to the fact that Edward Snowden, a former National Security Agency contractor, had said that Skype was part of the NSA’s plan to monitor online communications.

Another tweet read, “Do not use Microsoft emails (hotmail, outlook), They are monitoring your accounts and selling the data to the governments. More details soon. #SEA

Similar messages were posted on Skype’s Facebook account and blog, until it was later taken down. Skype said it had suffered a “cyber attack” and gave no other details on the situation.

In December, Microsoft joined seven other major technology companies in pressing President Obama to scale back on the U.S. Government’s electronic spying habits.

“I don’t think the hackers were doing anything wrong. They were letting the people know the truth and show how easy it is to hack into major companies’ software. If anything, they are helping the companies create better security for their websites and apps,” said junior Michelle Barclay.

Do you think the hackers were right to expose this information?

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