Snapchat users fed weight loss spam
If you are on Snapchat and start receiving messages from friends suggesting you need to lose weight, don’t be concerned. There has been an issue with Snapchat accounts sending out weight loss spam messages. The messages contain a website address that is registered in the name of the former Polish President Stanislaw Wojciechowski. An unknown number of Snapchat accounts have been compromised and are being used to send out the spam.
Of more concern is how the accounts were hacked in the first place. Snapchat has gained some notoriety since its founding in 2011. To recap, Snapchat allows a user to take a photo and send it to a friend. Once the photo is opened, it will self-destruct in 10 seconds (or less; the length of time is configurable by the sender). Snapchat bills itself as a live in the moment type of application, and is pitched at the younger end of the spectrum.
There have however been some issues along the way. First of all, researchers found that far from being deleted from a device, the pictures remained and could be extracted. Whilst Snapchat acknowledged and resolved the flaw, Evan Spiegel was flippant in his response. In January 2014, an organisation called SnapchatDB leaked 4.6 million Snapchat usernames and phone numbers. The phone numbers had the last two digits removed.
There is a possibility that the January hack and the latest spam messages are unrelated. There have been other breaches of user credentials published elsewhere on the web; it is possible that these user credentials have been used to hack Snapchat user accounts. This can be caused where users use the same username and password combination for multiple sites. It is recommended at the very least different passwords be used for different sites, and that a password manager be used to keep track of passwords.
Snapchat has responded by sending emails to users letting them know that they may have been hacked, and setting out the steps for resetting their password. In the meantime, if you receive a message from a Snapchat friend suggesting you need to lose weight, don’t be offended. It is spam.