The Future of Yo Is Dependent on Fixing Security Flaws

If the Yo app is to succeed at all after this initial bubble, the startup needs to patch up these security problems.


Yo: a single word that apparently requires an app infrastructure that has been the talk of the town since its launch last week. But as with anything gaining meteoric popularity the cracks have already begun to show. Flappy bird was so addictive it was pulled from app stores. Snapchat had very pronounced growing pains, but is still around. Yo is apparently very hackable.

The hack on Yo came from three Georgia Tech college students.“We can get any Yo user’s phone number (I actually texted the founder, and he called me back.) We can spoof Yos from any users, and we can spam any user with as many Yos as we want. We could also send any Yo user a push notification with any text we want (though we decided not to do that),” one of the students told TechCrunch in an email.

Yo’s founder Or Arbel later told TechCrunch “Some of the stuff has been fixed and some we are still working on. We are taking this very seriously.” The security problems are a little baffling considering the single use nature of the app, but apparently there are enough weaknesses that the phone numbers of 300,000 users could be exposed, according to Zachary M. Seward, senior editor of Quartz.

However, some see value in the service, not least of all its angel investors. Yo has already received $1.2 million in investment from various sources, despite of its youth and security flaws. And the idea of ‘context dependent communication’ has a few writers cautiously excited.

The Yo app could be a simple tool that enables you to let a friend know you’ve arrived at an event, or just provide a conversation starter. The ubiquity of short form messaging apps, like Snapchat or even Twitter, has been distilled down to a single word, that can be laden with meaning given the context. But if the app hopes to succeed at all after this initial bubble, the startup needs to patch up these security problems.