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Yo! Did You Hear That Million Dollar Baby startup Just Got Hacked ?

The Yo App was hacked just days after raising $1 million.

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screenshot-2014-06-18-YO - Or Arbel


Only last week Israeli Or Arbel announced that he had raised $1 million in funding for his new Yo app. Now comes word that three Georgia Tech students have been able to hack it. Arbel has confirmed that the company is having what he calls security issues.

In an e mail to TechCrunch, one of the hackers said, “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.)”

Arbel admitted to TechCrunch, “Some of the stuff has been fixed and some we are still working on. We are taking this very seriously.”

A man named Shubham Datta took the name Elon Musk for himself on Yo and was not challenged by the company. And a photograph was posted on Instagram which had the following written on it: “Wow.many1337.such bad security. I hacked Yo using #YoBeenHacked to talk about it.”

Last Thursday the App was lampooned by Comedy Central host and soon to be replacement for David Letterman on CBS Stephen Colbert. He said that Yo is “an app that’s already hugely popular with the world’s population of Sylvester Stallone.” This was a reference to how Stallone always said “yo” in the Rocky movies.

Colbert further mocked the concept of Yo. “When I first learned of an app that boils down all of your communications into two letters, ” he said, “I expressed myself in one: ‘y’. If I messaged some with Yo and wanted them to know what it meant I had to follow up with ‘gurt.’”

Colbert then demonstrated how Yo can be used in everyday life. He had an intern come on stage and give him his coffee. The two only used the word “yo” as Colbert expressed his anger with the coffee’s having been too hot. (Depending on where you live in the world you can find a clip of the Colbert piece on YouTube.)

Or Arbel is a graduate in computer science from the Ben-Gurion University in Beer Sheva who recently moved from Israel to Silicon Valley in California to work on Yo full time. He is putting the $1 million towards opening an office and hiring a staff.

He may be thinking of the success of WhatsApp, which was acquired by Facebook for $19 billion. Arbel’s app is similar to WhatsApp, only much more simplistic. Also, Arbel sees a commercial use for Yo. Stores could use it to send out announcements about sales and companies like Starbucks could use it to tell customers when their orders are ready.

Arbel would not be fazed by Colbert’s mocking of Yo and spurns suggestions that he should add more features to the app. He believes that Yo will be a success because of its simplicity. It’s like the old salesman’s rule, “Keep it simple stupid!”

Yo is currently offering a service for soccer fans. Users who sign up for its World Cup notifications will get a Yo every time that a goal is scored in the tournament currently being held in Brazil.



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