HACKERS have published the usernames and phone numbers of 4.6 million Snapchat users, exploiting a software coding flaw recently discovered by an Australian security collective.

The database of information was available as a download from website SnapchatDB.info, but the site has since been suspended.

Reports claim it contains information on US-based users only.

The anonymous publishers said on the site that they acquired the information through a vulnerability in Snapchat's programming language that allows usernames to be connected with their corresponding phone number.

The vulnerability was first found and published in August by an anonymous Australian collective of "white hat" hackers, Gibson Security, along with detailed coding.

White hat hackers test computer programs for security flaws and offer to fix them for a fee.

Gibson claims on their website that Snapchat has not responded to its warnings about the vulnerability, but denied having anything to do with publishing the database.

"We know nothing about SnapchatDB, but it was a matter of time till something like that happened," the firm tweeted on Wednesday.

The hackers who released the database said they did so in order to highlight the laxity with which internet companies protect user information.

"Companies that we trust with our information should be more careful when dealing with it,"
they wrote alongside links to the database, according to a snapshot of the site stored on Google's servers.

Because people tend to use the same username for different services, the information could help people find phone number information associated with Facebook and Twitter accounts, they wrote.

The hackers censored the last two digits of every phone number in order to "minimise spam and abuse", but said they may release the uncensored database on request.