October 11th 2014
Hackers are reportedly planning a massive online leak of images captured using the controversial photo messaging app Snapchat.
Up to 200,000 photos and videos are in the process of being leaked on to the forum website 4Chan in an event being dubbed 'Snappening'. 4Chan also showed the leaked nude photos of actress Jennifer Lawrence and other celebrities stolen from iCloud accounts. It is feared that because up to half of the app's users are aged between 13 and 17, some of the images may of children.
The images have been obtained by the hackers by using a third-party app that enables the user to save Snapchat images, which are actually meant to self-destruct within seconds.
Snapchat has confirmed that photos have been compromised, but that their servers have not been breached, but rather they "were victimised by their use of third-party apps to send and receive Snaps, a practice that we expressly prohibit in our ToU." Snapchat is renowned for poor safeguarding of users' data, with a number of high profile vulnerabilities and hacks having occurred in the last two years. Following the exposure of 4.6 million user names and phone numbers last New Years' Day, Snapchat faces independent privacy monitoring by the US Federal Trade Commission for 20 years.
4chan users have downloaded 13 Gigabytes' worth of photos and videos and are creating a database (pictured here) to search the stolen images. The photos and usernames were saved on the third-party site SnapSaved.com, which has since closed down.
A spokesperson for security firm ESET said that however the leak has happened, Snapchat users need to exercise restraint. "It is important to keep in mind that while an initial product or service may be quite secure, plug-ins, add-ons, extensions and third-party offerings used with it may not be subject to the same high levels of security, reliability or confidentiality."