SnapChat is the mobile application that allows users to share photos with other users of their choosing and has suffered a breach in user accounts leading into a photo leak. The image sent can only be viewed for an allotted period of time dictated by the sender by specified contacts, then disappears and, usually, cannot be saved without the use of other applications;thus, preventing undesired distribution of images.
SnapChat users are currently at risk of having their private photos leaked onto other photo sharing websites such as 4chan and Reddit. SnapChat states that their security has not been breached but the leak has indeed occurred. Thousands of nude photos have been hacked and are finding their way onto sites by yet to be discovered means. Speculation suggests the hackers have pulled the photos via third-party mobile applications.
More than 200,000 SnapChat accounts have been hacked into in the past month. The third-party application that allows users to save the images directly to a computer desktop instead of a mobile device is called Snap Saved and is considered to be a possible source of the current leak. This leak has been dubbed the “snappening,” after a previous online nude photo leak that was called the “fappening.”
The purpose behind the mobile app is to allow users to communicate to friends or other users of their choice with the promise of deleting the images for the protection of the user’s privacy. The creation of the third-party applications that allow the users imaged to be saved seems to undermine the very idea that lead to the creation of the popular app in the first place.
SnapChat, being a well-known vessel for nude image and video sharing, holds popularity with teens ages 12 and up may produce photo leaks of child pornography as images emerge in the collection hacked. As one of the more popular applications in the mobile world, SnapChat is a well known vessel for nude image and video file sharing and is not exclusive to age-group restrictions. SnapChat is popular within all age groups including teens and adults alike. This draws for concern that child pornography may emerge into the collection of the hacked accounts.
The fact that SnapChat accounts where accessible by users outside the application is reason enough for hackers to pull images and files that where otherwise compromised. This sets up a false sense of security and privacy and that the company should set out to ban the third-party application to up hold their security. Nico Sell the CEO of a competitor application called Wickr explains that Wickr files are destroyed and encrypted only by the Wickr application itself. In other words files can only be opened and are destroyed by the application own system and there are no third-party applications.
As long sites continue to have access to SnapChat accounts, users will continue to place themselves at risk when sending any type message or image file and produce future photo leaks. Nico continues to suggest that SnapChat should file to ban the third-party applications to protect chatters form any future incidents. USA Today claims that even if snappers do not use the other applications they are still vulnerable to being hacked. At the moment SnapChat states that users remain responsible for any of their occurrences.
by Ernesto Perez
Photo by Mr. Cacahuate – Flickr License