Jan. 02--Hackers posted a database containing 4.6 million names and phone numbers of Snapchat users and compromised the social media accounts of Internet calling service Skype in two apparently unrelated attacks.
A website called SnapchatDB.info made Snapchat customer information available for download late Tuesday, in what the perpetrators declared was an attempt to expose the vulnerability of users' data, according to reports by tech news blog TechCrunch at The Verge.
As of Wednesday evening, the site had been suspended.
Snapchat warned of this potential scenario days prior in a blog post, saying a security group had alerted it about a potential vulnerability "by which one could compile a database of Snapchat usernames and phone numbers."
Snapchat is a popular messaging app that lets users send each other photos that quickly disappear. In its blog post of Dec. 27, Snapchat described how its Find Friends feature allows users to upload their contact lists to Snapchat as a way of linking up friends. The company said it had implemented safeguards making an exploit "more difficult to do."
While the Snapchat hackers have remained anonymous, the Syrian Electronic Army claimed credit for hacking the official blog and social network accounts for Microsoft's Web calling service Skype.
A post published Wednesday on the official Skype blog featured the headline, "Hacked by Syrian Electronic Army.. Stop Spying!"
The group also posted the contact information of Steve Ballmer, Microsoft Corp's retiring chief executive, on its Twitter account along with the message, "You can thank Microsoft for monitoring your accounts/emails using this details. #SEA"
That message was an apparent reference to revelations last year by former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden that Skype, which is owned by Microsoft, was part of the NSA's program to monitor communications through some of the biggest U.S. Internet companies.
A message posted on Skype's official Twitter feed on Wednesday, apparently by the hacking group, read: "Don't use Microsoft emails (hotmail, outlook), They are monitoring your accounts and selling the data to the governments. More details soon. #SEA"
Similar messages were posted on Skype's official Facebook pages and on a blog on its website before being taken down in late afternoon. The SEA later tweeted out copies of the message "for those who missed it."
Representatives for Microsoft could not be reached for comment.
Last month Microsoft joined seven other top technology companies in pressing President Barack Obama to rein in the U.S. government's electronic spying in a meeting at the White House.
Media companies, including the New York Times and the BBC, have repeatedly been targeted by the Syrian Electronic Army and other hacker activist groups that deface websites and take over Twitter accounts.
Reuters and the Los Angeles Times contributed.