Oct 10th, 2014

Snapchat screenshots

If you’re not like me and don’t live by the “nothing is ever truly deleted on the internet” mantra, then perhaps you need to simply watch what you’re doing online. Snapchat has worked hard to improve their security since being a victim of a data breach last year. The breach allowed a group of no-gooders to leak 4.6 million usernames and the phone numbers associated with them. So what’s going on today?

Well, another leak has happened, but it’s important to note that this isn’t a “breach.” A large database of over 100,000 photos was posted online by people at 4Chan and consists of photos sent to and from many of the service’s users. The photos weren’t swiped from Snapchat’s servers, but from the servers of third party apps and sites that allow you to save Snapchat photos for long-term keeping. Here’s Snapchat’s take on the issue:

Snapchat-Logo

We can confirm that Snapchat’s servers were never breached and were not the source of these leaks. Snapchatters were victimized by their use of third-party apps to send and receive Snaps, a practice that we expressly prohibit in our Terms of Use precisely because they compromise our users’ security. We vigilantly monitor the App Store and Google Play for illegal third-party apps and have succeeded in getting many of these removed.

Indeed, one 4Chan user confirms that the photos originate from SnapSaved, not to be confused with a similarly named app with a similar purpose named SnapSave (the latter of which’s creator says doesn’t even use a cloud setup or store any photos or information on their servers).

SnapSaved.com is not operational as of the time of this writing, but its website once advertised the following “benefits”:

  • What is SnapSaved.com? SnapSaved.com is a library over all your snaps! All you have to do is login once when you have an unread snap, and it will be saved for you!

  • How does it work? Our server contacts Snapchat on your behalf, we then show you all your snaps so you can download them!

The leak may seem like a laughing matter at first, but a lot of nasty stuff was included in this incident. The biggest concern is a collection of nude imagery sent between underage users (Snapchat’s userbase of people under 18 years of age accounts for nearly 50%).

SnapChat reiterated that they’ve been working diligently to get apps that promote this functionality banned from Google Play and the Apple Appstore, which is why SnapSaved and similar companies have to host their wares on their own websites. We’re not sure why SnapSaved ever had the need to store these photos on their servers, but it’s an eye-opening situation that should remind you to try and stick to first party, official applications whenever transmitting sensitive data. And let’s not abuse SnapChat for what it is in the first place: a place to share one-off photos with close friends and family that they don’t intend for you to save for long-term viewing.

[via Business Insider]

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