A newly viral smartphone app called “Yo” may die out as quickly as it rose to fame, thanks to some hacking from students at Georgia Tech.
The app is about as simple as it gets. You download and send a one-word message–“Yo”–to your friends, and they can send the same message in return. The app already has over one million users and has racked up $1.2 million in sponsorship funds. The app was launched on April Fool’s Day as nothing more than a joke, but it soon took on a life of its own.
The simplicity of the app could be its downfall. The Georgia Tech students responsible for the hack made the following comments: “We can get any Yo user’s phone number (I actually texted the founder, and he called me back.) We can spoof Yos from any users, and we can spam any user with as many Yos as we want. We could also send any Yo user a push notification with any text we want (though we decided not to do that.)”
Since the hack, other users have taken advantage of the app’s vulnerability. A Vine was released showing Yo playing snippets of Rick Astley’s “Never Gonna Give You Up,” and a user on Instagram posted an image of Yo sending text in the Doge meme format, as opposed to the simple “Yo.”
While this may all seem like fun and games, it is troubling that college students were able to get user phone numbers with minimal effort. With the number of people already in the Yo network, that could be a real cause for concern.