NEW YORK — Snapchat, the disappearing-message service popular with young people, has been quiet after a security breach that allowed hackers to collect usernames and phone numbers of some 4.6 million of its users.
Company spokeswoman Mary Ritti said Thursday the company is assessing the situation, but did not have further comment.
The breach occurred after security experts warned the company at least twice about a vulnerability in its system. Snapchat's seemingly detached response is causing some security specialists to wonder whether the relatively young company can handle the spotlight that it's been thrust into over the last year as its service becomes enormously popular.
In response to a warning by Gibson Security on Dec. 25 — which followed an earlier alert in August — Snapchat said in a blog post last Friday that it had implemented “various safeguards” over the past year that would make it more difficult to steal large sets of phone numbers. Snapchat hasn't detailed the changes it made.
Even so, regarding Snapchat's response, Gartner security analyst Avivah Litan said it “doesn't seem that responsible to be so nonchalant about it.”
As Americans rang in the New Year, hackers reportedly published 4.6 million Snapchat usernames and phone numbers on snapchatdb.info, a website which since has been suspended. The breach came less than a week after the most recent warning from security experts that an attack could take place.
The incident bruises the young company's image and may threaten its rapid growth. Los Angeles-based Snapchat has no source of revenue, but its rapid rise to an estimated 20 million U.S. adult users prompted Facebook to extend a reported $3 billion buyout last year. Snapchat's 23-year-old CEO, Evan Spiegel, turned down the overture. The user number estimate is based on census data and data from the Pew Research Center.