Snapchat Grapples With New Year’s Hack

Millions of users effected

Snapchat rang in the New Year with a hack.

The hot startup had been warned of security flaws in its software that could expose its users' data. On New Year's Eve the security hole was exploited, as millions of Snapchat users account information leaked online.

Hackers were able to connect 4.6 million phone numbers to Snapchat users' names. An Australian hacking syndicate called GibsonSec warned Snapchat of the flaw months ago in private, but said it never heard back from the company. "We haven't heard from them at all, " GibsonSec said in an email.

The alleged hackers publicly posted on Christmas their security findings on Snapchat.

Snapchat waited days to address GibsonSec's claims, but downplayed the risk in a blog post last week.

Then last night, a website posted the data of 4.6 million users exploiting the same hole that had been made public.

Basically, hackers could input millions of phone numbers, and they could match the ones that have Snapchat accounts, exposing user names.

Snapchat is popular because it allows users to share photos that disappear after being viewed. The short-lived photos are seen as a privacy measure by users. 

Any security lapses at the young company could be a blow to that privacy image. Even co-founder Evan Spiegel's account data was said to be exposed in last night's leak.