Snapchat, the online photo messaging application has reportedly been hacked. A reported 200,000 photos and videos will be leaked by hackers, many of them of the nude variety. 4Chan the site to where the initial Jennifer Lawrence pictures were leaked is in the process of receiving the leaked images.
The privacy that many feel is safeguarded over the Internet is becoming more of an illusion. That secure cloud appears to be anything but, as more and more stories of hacking emerge. When first reported several days ago, it was estimated that up to 200,000 images might have been compromised.
Whether they were saved through a third-party application or people saved many of the screen shots, is immaterial. Snapchat advertised itself as a venue where risqué images or videos could be sent and quickly destroyed. It was supposed to be a safe platform where consenting adults could have some flirtatious fun.
What is alarming is that reportedly there are underage images as well. It is not known who or how those images were attained, but it amounts to child pornography. While capturing nude adult images thought to be private I one thing, including children is quite another.
While Snapchat has fervently denied that any images came from their servers, it is pointing to third-party applications as the culprit. Applications such as Snapsave and web pages like SnapSaved.com have allowed users to save images sent via Snapchat. With the existence of such sites, users must understand that whatever is sent over the web is not sacred unless properly encrypted.
George Casey, the Snapsave developer, denies his application is to blame. Snapsave only saves what is transmitted to an Android phone. Their servers are not storage units for any type of transmission. Images on SnapSaved.com, on the other hand, are no longer available. Its URL can no longer be accessed.
This is not the first time Snapchat has come under fire for this type of action. Earlier this year, a third-party hacking service released a million users names along with their passwords. Snapchat reiterated, again, that the latest security breach was due to third-party intervention, which, according to their user agreement, is strictly prohibited. Snapchat further claims to be monitoring for third-party applications that compromise the system’s security.
Regardless of culpability, users are reminded that many technologies that purport to be private actually are not. Reportedly, a third-party app was responsible for collecting photos and videos for years. Users were under the impression that these transmissions had all been deleted.
While the focus is on Snapchat and the applications surrounding it, there was still a platform required to distribute these images. 4chan is an image storage site where users post anonymously. The site does not require any user registration. 4chan is not devoid of controversy and has been used previously for pranks and as a destination for illegally obtained images. Jennifer Lawrence’s images first appeared on 4chan. The site has had a history of controversial postings including nude celebrity photos. Its anonymity makes it an easy delivery platform.
Ultimately it is up to the user to decide what or what not to transmit over the Internet. The latest Snapchat hacking is a testament that security measures should be taken whenever a person decides to send something risqué or controversial. The best security is quite possibly taken before the “send” key is pressed. Once sent, it cannot be recalled.
Opinion By Hans Benes
Image courtesy of Maurizio Pesce – License