You may have heard that the web is rampant with a new security scare involving a massive leak of 4.6 million Snapchat usernames and phone numbers on New Year’s Day. As you could imagine, the privacy implications of a breach that involves a service as popular as Snapchat are something of a headache.
First and foremost, the alleged hackers censored the last two digits of the phone numbers to “minimize spam and abuse”. The wording itself is disturbing as it implies that the phone numbers could be sold.
Indeed, the hackers make it clear they’re open to offering the uncensored database to third-parties such as “security researchers from around the world, professors from various universities, private investigators and attorneys”.
Say someone scanned the leaked Snapchat database and obtained your Snapchat username along with a phone number tied to your account. You should care because your phone number reveals your approximate geographical location (the country code).
More importantly, knowing your phone number allows them – “them” being nefarious users – to figure out your Facebook and Twitter profile names and/or other social media screen names, unless of course you’ve registered with these services using a different phone number.
If your Snapchat data has been hijacked and leaked on the web as part of this hack, here’s how to change your username and delete your profile along with all of the underlying data…
Is my data part of the leaked database?
This one’s easy.
Thanks to developers Will Smidlein and Robbie Trencheny, there’s a checker script that can tell you whether your Snapchat username and phone number is included in the leaked database, which at post time was no longer publicly available because the SnapchatDB.info website got suspended.
Even if you’re in the clear at this point, you should re-consider using the same phone number with Snapchat and other services such as Facebook and Twitter.
Do I have to give Snapchat my phone number?
In a word – no.
That’s right, you are not required to add a phone number to your Snapchat account: it’s completely optional and only useful if you’re eager to let folks who already have your phone number to find you on Snapchat.
According to Snapchat’s response to the Gibson report which highlights the app’s vulnerabilities, “We don’t display the phone numbers to other users”. They also don’t support the ability to look up phone numbers based on someone’s username, if I might add.
How do I change my phone number associated with Snapchat?
To change a phone number associated with your Snapchat account, follow these steps.
STEP 1 – fire up Snapchat for iPhone (a free download from the App Store) and tap the little ghost icon at the top of the screen, as pictured below. It will open your basic profile page.
STEP 2 – From there, tap the gear icon icon in the upper-right. This will invoke the settings interface where you can change the various aspects of your Snapchat account.
STEP 3 – You’ll want to tap the Mobile Number section and provide a new phone number on the next screen. Snapchat will text you a verification code to complete the process so yes, you’ll need to provide a valid phone number, one that can receive SMS.
How do I delete my Snapchat account?
Deciding that enough is enough, privacy freaks could be (rightfully) tempted to delete their Snapchat account. Or, you might have decided to delete the existing account and register a new one, just to be on the safe side.
As you could imagine, online services do a terrific job of burying the account deletion link where most average users won’t bother to look and Snapchat is no exception.
Worry not, as iDownloadBlog has you covered.
To delete your account, follow these simple steps.
STEP 1 – Hop over to https://support.snapchat.com/delete-account and log in using your existing Snapchat credentials. You’ll be greeted with a screen containing two fields, one already automatically populated with your username and the other for your Snapchat password.
STEP 2 – Re-enter your password: this is a requirement for security reasons.
STEP 3 – Hit the Delete Account button. After a few moments, the web interface will inform you that your account has been deleted.
STEP 4 – Double check that your old account no longer exists by logging out (hit the Sign Out link in the upper right) and attempting to re-login using your old credentials.
Just to be 100 percent clear here: deleting your account wipes out all underlying data. Plus, you won’t be able to create a new account with the same username.
Can I change my Snapchat username?
Snapchat does now allow this, as of yet.
As a workaround solution, you could start anew – and if your data has been compromised by yesterday’s leak, you really should.
Here’s how you’ll accomplish just that:
STEP 1 – First, delete your old Snapchat account by following the steps outlined in the previous section.
STEP 2 – Once that’s taken care of, fire up Snapchat for iPhone and tap the lower left icon in the camera interface to bring up in-app settings. Tap the gear icon in the upper right corner, scroll to the bottom and tap Log Out to log out of your old Snapchat account.
STEP 3– You’ll be taken to Snapchat’s login interface. Tap the big blue Sign Up button to re-sign up with a new account. Follow the provided instructions to complete the account creation process. Again, you can’t create a new account that has the same username as your deleted Snapchat account.
And that’s all there’s to it, really!
Hopefully, this article will be helpful in case you feel the urge to delete your account, update your username or simply educate yourself on the security implications of the Snapchat hack.
You know what’s really been ticking me off?
That Snapchat, as of this writing, hasn’t even bothered to provide an official comment.
I know bigger names in tech are not immune to this kind of behavior – Apple and Yahoo being typical examples – but Snapchat is a young startup and as such should be agile and quick to respond to these kinds of security breaches.
With that in mind, Snapchat’s non-comment paints a picture of a company run by playful kids who couldn’t care less about their users’ security.