Yo, the strangely popular zero-character messaging app that earned itself well over one million users in its first week, has hired one of the hackers that hacked the app last week in an effort to improve its stability. The app, which only allows users to send each other a message that says “Yo,” was hacked Friday morning by three students from Georgia Tech University. These attackers pushed messages to users’ phones and could read personal data from the company’s user database.
“Yo started as a weekend project and exploded a little too soon,” Or Arbel, Yo’s developer and founder, said. “We were just finishing up rewriting the infrastructure in a proper and secure way, as suitable for production grade apps, when it suddenly blew up and went viral.” There is no word on the salary of the newly hired help.
But Arbel highlighted the fact that little user data was at risk, and the issue was fixed by Saturday morning. Users aren’t asked for an email, full name, or social media login when signing up to use the app. Instead, users are only asked to provide a username. Therefore, the only bit of personal information that became available to the hackers was the phone numbers of users who opted in to the “Find Friends” feature, which were then made public briefly via a “Yo-Hack” website.
Now, the Yo app is faced with an even greater challenge than being hacked: how to keep over one million users interested in a one-trick pony for more than five minutes. Since its launch, the development team has hired an Android engineer, back-end engineer, and made its API available. The company has provided a list of possible marketing uses for Yo, such as an NFL team being able to Yo its fans whenever the team scores a touchdown or an ice-cream truck Yo-ing its fans when it is around the corner. However, let’s be honest here, a true NFL fan would already have cell phone alerts set in any of the number of apps that allow team alerts, and wouldn’t you just be able to hear the ice cream truck to begin with?