Snapchat, feeling the heat, will let users opt out of compromised feature

New controls will let people stop themselves from being searchable based on their phone numbers

Snapchat's app on iOS.

Snapchat's app on iOS.

Snapchat, reeling from a recent hack that exposed millions of user names and partially redacted phone numbers of its members, will now let users back out of the feature that hackers abused.

The company also said it would improve some mechanisms, including a tool known as "rate limiting," to combat future attempts to abuse its service.

In August, security research group Gibson Security warned Snapchat of a flaw in its "Find Friends" feature that could allow account details such as user names and phone numbers to be leaked. Last week, the group published proof-of-concept code showing how Snapchat's API (application programming interface) could be abused to expose that information. Then, on New Year's Day, a group of hackers paired the phone numbers with the user names of more than 4.6 million Snapchat users and posted them online. The hackers said that they could complete the partially redacted phone numbers if people asked them to.

The "Find Friends" feature gives people the option of giving Snapchat their phone numbers so other users can find them, if they're in their friends' address books.

In a blog post on Thursday, Snapchat said it would update its app to let users get out of the Find Friends feature so they could no longer be found through their phone numbers. Snapchat did not say when the change would be coming, and could not immediately be reached for further comment. Snapchat also did not say what it would do with the phone numbers of the people who subsequently opted out.

In its latest blog post, the company seemed to distance itself from a previous statement that took a more casual tone toward the incident, instead sounding more serious around its security.

"We want to make sure security experts can get a hold of us when they discover new ways to abuse our service so that we can respond quickly to address those concerns," Snapchat said. Last week, the company acknowledged the concerns, but characterized them as being more theoretical, given other safeguards put in place over last year.

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags social mediamobileinternetsocial networkingvideomobile applicationsInternet-based applications and servicesSnapChat

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Zach Miners

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Cool Tech

Toys for Boys

Skywatcher Dobsonian 8″ Collapsible Telescope

Learn more >

Family Friendly

Whodunnit™ Duo-Scope MFL-007 Microscope Kit

Learn more >

Stocking Stuffer

Logitech Ultimate Ears Wonderboom 2 Bluetooth Speaker

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Brand Post

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Tom Sellers

MSI P65

This smart laptop was enjoyable to use and great to work on – creating content was super simple.

Lolita Wang

MSI GT76

It really doesn’t get more “gaming laptop” than this.

Jack Jeffries

MSI GS75

As the Maserati or BMW of laptops, it would fit perfectly in the hands of a professional needing firepower under the hood, sophistication and class on the surface, and gaming prowess (sports mode if you will) in between.

Taylor Carr

MSI PS63

The MSI PS63 is an amazing laptop and I would definitely consider buying one in the future.

Christopher Low

Brother RJ-4230B

This small mobile printer is exactly what I need for invoicing and other jobs such as sending fellow tradesman details or step-by-step instructions that I can easily print off from my phone or the Web.

Aysha Strobbe

Microsoft Office 365/HP Spectre x360

Microsoft Office continues to make a student’s life that little bit easier by offering reliable, easy to use, time-saving functionality, while continuing to develop new features that further enhance what is already a formidable collection of applications

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?