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Who has access to your digital ID?



As Americans rang in the New Year on December 31, 2013, hackers reportedly published 4.6 million Snapchat usernames and phone numbers on a website called snapchatdb.info, which has since been suspended.  The popular application that allows users to send photos that delete themselves after a short interval has an estimated 26 million users who send approximately 350 million photos per day.

Snapchat users may check to see whether their information has been released at http://lookup.gibsonsec.org/. The website is sponsored by Gibson Security, a firm that warned Snapchat of security vulnerability on Christmas Day.  Gibson notes that users may delete their Snapchat accounts, but that doing so will not remove their phone numbers from the already circulating leaked database.  Concerned users, may, however, ask their mobile phone carriers for new numbers.

The threat associated with the release of user names and phone numbers is that phone numbers are an important key in establishing identity.  ABC News reports “a criminal with several datasets can correlate phone numbers with other records, making it easier to assume real-world identities at banks, government agencies, employers, and elsewhere.”

Gibson Security encourages everyone to ensure that “security settings are up to scratch on your social media profiles.  Be careful about what data you give away to sites when you sign up – if you don’t think a service requires your phone number, don’t give it to them.”

Snapchat announced plans for the release of a new version of the app. The update will allow users to opt-out of the “Find Friends” feature, which was at the heart of the breach.