Sometimes it’s just easier to say you’re sorry.

On the heels of a highly publicized security breach of the service, Snapchat CEO Evan Spiegel sat down with The Today Show to explain what his team has been doing to safeguard against further issues. On New Year’s Eve, hackers exploited a security vulnerability that Snapchat had been warned about long in advance.

The only thing missing? An apology.

“I believe at the time we thought we had done enough, but in a business like this if you spend your time looking backwards, you’re just gonna kill yourself,” Spiegel said in the interview.

Using a loophole in the Find Friends service, hackers were able to make account names and phone numbers searchable, exposing the information of nearly five million Snapchat users (including members of the Re/code staff).

Since the hack occurred earlier this week, the company has been criticized for not adequately responding to security firms’ warnings about the service’s vulnerability — which was pointed out to Snapchat in August. At the time, Snapchat responded in a blog post, dismissing the issue as a “theoretical” point of attack.

The way the hack was brought to a tipping point, however, is certainly a point of debate worth mulling over. The anonymous group that made Snapchat user phone numbers and account names searchable are generally considered “white hat” hackers — essentially a name for those who find system vulnerabilities in order to warn the affected party, not to profit from them.

Spiegel and company don’t see it that way. “We call it abuse of the Find Friends service,” he said.

Snapchat will soon release an update to its app in which it claims to prevent further compromise of the tool. “The key is striking a balance between providing a utility of a Find Friends service and preventing abuse,” he said.

Watch the full segment below.

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This is one of the reasons why I don't trust Snapchat, and don't think they are worth nearly as much as they are getting valued at. The company is only as good as its employees and management team. And they haven't necessarily instilled confidence.


This is PR-101 fail. He should have had better PR folks on his side when tackling this...


This is typical of innovative upstart companies until they get some adults in the room. Facebook was the same way--as an advertiser, it used to be awful when you needed to get assistance because of new algorithm or code change. Now their reps are some of the most responsive that we work with. But for now, Snapchat folks need to show a little public mea culpa.

Donald McIntyre
Donald McIntyre

At 23 he can still be silly and arrogant, but if he doesn't learn how to treat users and society as a whole with respect he might fall into the trap of believing he is omnipotent and let the company be the subject of more attacks in the future.

Any of the mature investment firms backing the company should coach him a little bit to avoid these PR disasters (and maybe a loss of users and thus value). 


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