Who Hacked Snapchat AI? Uncovering the Inside Story of a Cyberattack

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In the realm of social media, Snapchat has carved a unique niche with its ephemeral messaging and engaging filters. However, the app’s reputation was tarnished in 2019 when a high-profile hack exposed the vulnerabilities of its artificial intelligence (AI) technology.

The Breach: A Costly Mistake

On December 3, 2019, it was revealed that Snapchat had fallen victim to a cyberattack. Hackers had exploited a security flaw in the app’s API to gain access to the personal data of millions of users. This included full names, emails, phone numbers, and even Bitmoji avatars.

The breach was a major embarrassment for Snapchat, which had previously prided itself on its security measures. The company was fined £3.5 million by the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) in the UK for failing to protect its users’ data.

Unmasking the Hackers

The investigation into the Snapchat hack quickly zeroed in on two suspects:

  • John Rayne Rivello: A 21-year-old college student from Florida with a history of hacking
  • Rebekah Suzanne Morales: A 22-year-old associate of Rivello

Rivello and Morales were identified after they posted a video online boasting about their exploit. They claimed to have downloaded personal data from Snapchat’s servers and threatened to release it unless the company paid them $250,000 in Bitcoin.

Their Motive: Fame and Fortune

The motives behind the Snapchat hack were a combination of notoriety and financial gain. Rivello and Morales were eager to gain fame by publicizing their attack on a major social media platform. They also hoped to profit from the data they had stolen, potentially by selling it to other hackers or cybercriminals.

The Aftermath: Lessons Learned

The Snapchat hack served as a wake-up call for companies across the globe. It highlighted the importance of investing in robust cybersecurity measures and the potential consequences of failing to protect user data.

In the wake of the attack, Snapchat implemented several security enhancements to strengthen its platform, including:

  • Upgrading its API to prevent future exploits
  • Deploying AI-powered detection tools to identify and block suspicious activity
  • Partnering with external security companies for ongoing monitoring and support


The Snapchat AI hack remains one of the most high-profile cyberattacks in recent history. It demonstrated the vulnerability of even the most secure platforms and served as a reminder that companies must prioritize the protection of their users’ sensitive data.

The responsible parties, John Rayne Rivello and Rebekah Suzanne Morales, were eventually arrested and charged with conspiracy to commit wire fraud and extortion. Their actions highlighted the alarming trend of cybercriminals targeting social media and technology companies for financial gain and notoriety.

As the digital landscape continues to evolve, it is imperative for companies to stay vigilant and invest in robust cybersecurity measures to mitigate the risks of future attacks. By learning from the mistakes of the past, we can collectively work towards protecting our privacy and digital assets from the growing threats posed by cybercriminals.

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