Security researcher, Jaime Sanchez has been blocked by Snapchat after publishing vulnerabilities about the ephemeral texting app. According to the cyber security-consultant, the app can be used to stage a denial of service attack (DDoS). This means, anyone using the app can lose their ability to use their phone if hackers were to target large numbers of Snapchat users.
The security flaw uses a weakness in Snapchat’s system that allows any sender to reuse old tokens, a code used to verify user’s identities. By re-using old tokens, hackers can disable a user’s phone by using computers to send thousands of Snapchat messages, usually causing the device to shut down.
There’s no permanent damage to mobile devices from this type of attack, but it is considered illegal in the UK, where hackers can face up to 10 years in prison. In the US, a DDoS attack is considered a federal crime, though digital protest group, Anonymous has asked the Obama administration to recognize it as a form of legal, non-violent protests.
My two accounts and IPs involved in the research of the Snapchat DoS has been banned. That’s their countermeasure… pic.twitter.com/W5XOkkkQNc
— Jaime Sanchez (@segofensiva) February 8, 2014
For his discovery, Jaime Snachez was banned by Snapchat. The security consultant said he does not respect the tech company, whose weak background of ignoring security warnings have led them to be targets of preventative hacks.