News & Views
Dropbox drops a bollock

Conversations about online privacy and security continue to abound this week, with Dropbox being named as the latest tech company facing a serious breach. Anonymous hackers have released 400 passwords, and claim to have compromised a whopping 6.9 million Dropbox accounts in total.

Dropbox swiftly denied that it had been hacked, instead blaming “third party services” for the leaked user details. “These usernames and passwords were unfortunately stolen from other services and used in attempts to log in to Dropbox accounts,” reads the official statement. “We’d previously detected these attacks and the vast majority of the passwords posted have been expired for some time now. All other remaining passwords have been expired as well.”

The company blog reiterates this stance: “Recent news articles claiming that Dropbox was hacked aren’t true. Your stuff is safe… We have measures in place to detect suspicious login activity and we automatically reset passwords when it happens… Attacks like these are one of the reasons why we strongly encourage users not to reuse passwords across services. For an added layer of security, we always recommend enabling two step verification on your account.”

Even before this latest incident, Dropbox was condemned by whistle-blower Edward Snowden. “Snowden warned web users that Dropbox does not safeguard their privacy,” says Natasha Lomas at TechCrunch, “because it holds encryption keys and can therefore be forced by governments to hand over the personal data they store on its servers.”

Following last month’s iCloud scandal, a spotlight has been shone on the security flaws in mass use storage systems, and that scrutiny looks set to intensify following the so-called “Snappening”, which has seen an estimated 90,000 Snapchat images and 9,000 videos leaked through a third party app or website (most likely Snapsaved). What makes the Snappening different, other than the sheer volume of photos, is the age of the users whose accounts have been violated. With most Snapchatters aged between 13 and 17, any images of an explicit nature have the potential to be deemed child pornography.

Snapchat, though, does not hold itself accountable, stating: “We can confirm that Snapchat’s servers were never breached and were not the source of these leaks. Snapchatters were victimised by their use of third party apps to send and receive Snaps, a practice that we expressly prohibit in our Terms of Use.”

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