Over 55,000 Snapchat users were hacked as part of a complex phishing scam, first flagged by a British government official in July last year. KLKViral, a website believed to originate from a previous attack in the Dominican Republic, listed Snapchat accounts, usernames and passwords. It duped users by mimicking the Snapchat login page, for which Snap, the platform’s parent company, has apologized.
The number of users hacked represents just a fraction of Snapchat’s 187 million users. But it comes at a delicate time for Snap, whose video-recording Spectacles have flopped, and whose recent Snapchat redesign was blasted.
The KLKViral hack, run via the website klkviral.org, was first brought to Snap’s attention by a UK government official in the country of Dorset, who noted that thousands of Snapchat users’ credentials appeared on a public list at the bogus site. Snap reset the passwords of affected users, and worked with Google and hosting site GoDaddy to have klkviral.org removed from the Web.
But by then over 55,000 accounts were compromised, for which a Snap spokesman apologized in a conversation with The Verge. “While we can’t prevent people from sharing their Snapchat credentials with third parties, we do have advanced defenses to detect and prevent suspicious activity,” the spokesman said.
The news comes at a difficult time for Snap. The company’s recent overhaul of Snapchat’s design was roundly slated by users, with an online petition to revert back to its previous design reaping over a million signatures. Last week CEO Evan Spiegel said the new design would not be changed. But leaked images suggest the company is taking its criticism on board.
Snap underwent an IPO last March that was widely seen as a flop. Despite fourth-quarter financials, released at the beginning of this month, that indicate Snap’s share price is about its IPO valuation for the first time since June, the firm still reported a loss of $350m, on $286m in revenues.
Only 0.08% of users bought Snap’s ill-fated Spectacles, hundreds of thousands of which languish in warehouses. Barely half of Spectacles users continued with the product after a month, according to Business Insider. Yesterday Recode reported that Spiegel, worth an alleged $4.5bn, sold his first batch of Snap stocks, worth more than $50m.