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Hackers post account info of 4.6 million Snapchat users: report

(Reuters) – Computer hackers posted online usernames and partial phone numbers of 4.6 million users of mobile photo-sharing service Snapchat, media reports said on Wednesday.

A website called SnapchatDB.info made the information available for download, according to tech news site TechCrunch. (link.reuters.com/wyg75v)

As on Wednesday night, the site SnapchatDB.info has been suspended.

In a statement to TecCrunch, SnapchatDB said that it got the information through a recently identified and patched Snapchat exploit and that it was making the data available in an effort to convince the messaging app to beef up its security.

With Snapchat, users can send photos and videos that disappear shortly after they are viewed and have been lately gaining popularity especially among young users.

Snapchat drew attention in November when reports emerged that it had turned down a $3 billion acquisition offer from Facebook. The two-year old company has so far raised more than $123 million in funding.

Snapchat could not immediately be reached for comment by Reuters outside of regular U.S.business hours.

(Reporting by Sakthi Prasad in Bangalore; Editing by Gopakumar Warrier)

(Reuters) – The Syrian Electronic Army, an amorphous hacker collective that supports Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, claimed credit on Wednesday for hacking into the social media accounts of Internet calling service Skype.

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.

The NSA’s practices essentially made Microsoft and other technology companies partners in government surveillance efforts against private citizens in the United States and elsewhere.

Last month Microsoft joined seven other top technology companies in pressing PresidentBarack 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.

Obama and his national security team are trying to decide what recommendations to adopt from an outside panel’s review of the NSA’s activities.

A U.S. District judge in December ruled that the U.S. government’s gathering of Americans’ phone records is likely unlawful and raised what he called “serious doubts” about the value of the so-called metadata counter-terrorism program.

A second federal judge ruled later in the month that the program was constitutional, raising the likelihood that the issue will be settled by the U.S. Supreme Court.

This week, a monitoring group said the death toll in Syria’s civil war, which began in March 2011 as peaceful protests against four decades of rule by Assad’s family, had risen to at least 130,000.

BY DAN WHITCOMB

(Reporting by Dan Whitcomb; Editing by Ian Simpson and Sandra Maler)

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