Meet Graham Smith, the 16-Year-Old Dallas Boy Who Hacked Snapchat to Reveal Security Flaws

Keep Dallas Observer Free
I Support
  • Local
  • Community
  • Journalism
  • logo

Support the independent voice of Dallas and help keep the future of Dallas Observer free.

Because you can never have too many reasons to feel inadequate about your teenage years, we'd like to introduce you to 16-year-old Graham Smith. By day, he's your typical Episcopal School of Dallas sophomore. By night, he's a white-hat hacker who's recently gained notoriety by exposing security flaws in Snapchat.

Calling Smith Snapchat's "nemesis," as The Daily Beast did on Wednesday, is probably something of an overstatement. That title should probably be reserved for whoever orchestrated the massive data breach of the picture-messaging app.

Smith's more like a lonely heckler, shouting unsolicited -- but useful -- advice from the sidelines.

Apparently worried that the privacy protections implemented in the wake of the data breach were inadequate, he cold-called and texted Snapchat co-founder chief technology officer Bobby Murphy, whose number he pieced together using the hacked data, to let him know the app still had major security flaws.

Although the company had promised to tighten security measures to prevent the leak of large quantities of personal data, by setting up dummy accounts and repeatedly using the "Find Friends" feature, Smith was able to pull down 36,000 phone numbers per day.

"When I figured it out, I was surprised at how simple it was," Smith told ESD's communications department. "Your average person could probably figure it out."

He posted his findings on his blog, which appears to be down for the moment.

He related all this to Murphy, who promised to look into it. Snapchat told the Washington Post last week that it's investigating and making improvements.

Smith, though, isn't satisfied, saying the company hasn't gone far enough. He plans to continue poking at Snapchat, searching for vulnerabilities.

"I don't want to be the bad guy," Smith tells The Daily Beast. "I just want to make sure users are getting the end of the bargain, that their user information is safe."

Send your story tips to the author, Eric Nicholson.

Keep the Dallas Observer Free... Since we started the Dallas Observer, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Dallas, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Dallas with no paywalls.

We use cookies to collect and analyze information on site performance and usage, and to enhance and customize content and advertisements. By clicking 'X' or continuing to use the site, you agree to allow cookies to be placed. To find out more, visit our cookies policy and our privacy policy.


Join the Observer community and help support independent local journalism in Dallas.


Join the Observer community and help support independent local journalism in Dallas.