Target and Snapchat Security Breach Inconveniences Millions

Rebecca Gluck, Staff Writer

Two of the nation’s favorite companies recently experienced turmoil. At the end of 2013, Snapchat and Target were hacked within five weeks of each other, leaking millions of peoples’ phone numbers and credit card numbers.

Between Nov. 27 and Dec. 15, 70 million Target shoppers had addresses, phone numbers, and other personal information stolen. An additional 40 million had credit card numbers stolen. This prompted millions of people to replace their credit or debit card numbers, preventing some from being able to withdraw money from their accounts during the busy holiday season.

Hacking experts from a group called IntelCrawler seem to have a lead on who hacked Target. They believe a Russian 17-year-old installed malicious software on thousands of Target’s credit card machines, although this has not been confirmed.

To make up for the security breach, Target is offering one year of free credit monitoring and identity theft protection to people who shopped at Target stores in the U.S. during the hack.

Snapchat, one of the most popular apps among teenagers, was hacked on New Year’s Eve, exposing the usernames and phone numbers of 4.6 million users.

The anonymous hackers created a database of these usernames and numbers called SnapchatDB and posted it online. The site has since been removed.

Users of Snapchat can go to a website called GS Lookup-Snapchat and enter their Snapchat username to see if they were hacked.

Snapchat makes it simple to communicate with strangers whether the user would like to or not. The hackers said that the database was made to urge Snapchat to enhance security features on the app. “I only like snapchat for sending pictures to my friends and then this guy started snapchatting me so I deleted it out of fear,” sophomore Ali Ingrey said.

After the incident, Snapchat added the option to allow users to opt out of the “Add Friends” feature, which links the Snapchat account to one’s cell phone number.