If you haven’t heard of Snapchat, it is a photo messaging application that users can take photos, record videos, add text and drawings, and send them to their friends for a maximum of 10 seconds.
Usernames and mobile phone numbers for more than 4 million Snapchat users were stolen from the photo-sharing service this past week by hackers.The hackers say that they only wanted to call attention to flaws in Snapchat’s security. They posted the usernames, along with mobile phone numbers, of 4.6 million users, with Xs in place of the last two digits of each phone number.
Do you know if your data has been leaked? Go to Snapcheck.org to check. If your username is on the list, there’s nothing you need to do immediately. The biggest danger is that thieves sometimes collect information in small bits and then put it together. For instance, if you use the same username on multiple sites, or if your phone number is available on other sites like LinkedIn, Facebook or Twitter, someone could potentially match the Snapchat data with what’s published elsewhere. You might decide it’s safer to use different usernames on different sites, but there’s no way to avoid all risks because you almost always have to share at least a little personal information to use any online service.
The best advice I can give you is to remain vigilant about protecting your credit and identity in case something does happen. Here are three tips to protect your online identity:
- Create Strong Passwords. Your passwords shouldn’t be predictable, short or easy to hack. Longer passwords that include special characters work best. The more complicated the password, the better, so make sure to use uppercase and lowercase along with special characters or symbols. Instead of “password123,” try “Pa$sword48011.” Change your password often and try not to use the same one across multiple accounts.
- Protect Your Smartphone. 32% of people save login info on their phone. Don’t keep any personal information on your phone. If you lose your phone and there is no password on it, anyone can access your information. Did you know that 62% of people don’t put a password on their home screen? That means that your phone is susceptible for anyone to access your bank accounts or social networking sites.
- Know What Info You Share. What information do you share online? One study shows that 68% of people with public profiles shared their birthday information, 18% shared their phone number, 63% shared their high school name and 12% shared their pet’s name. Go into your account’s privacy settings and check out the information that you’re sharing. In the age of oversharing, you’ll be safer keeping some things offline.
Snapchat will be adding new privacy features that will allow users to opt out of a “Find Friends” feature that uses their phone number. They’ll also be adding internal restrictions that will make it more difficult to employ the method hackers say they used to expose 4.6 million accounts. “The Snapchat community is a place where friends feel comfortable expressing themselves and we’re dedicated to preventing abuse,” Snapchat said in the post, which did not include an apology to its users.
If one of the biggest social networking sites could be hacked, is anyone really safe? If your company doesn’t have a top notch security system, we may be able to help. Contact us to see how we can help you.
Was your account hacked in the Snapchat security breach? How do you protect yourself from online identity theft? Let me know the comments section below or tweet me directly at @YuppItsDebbie.