The Snappening is real, tens of thousands of private photos and videos have been leaked online. The leaked files were reportedly stored secretly by a third party Snapchat client App.
Initially, the Snappening was rumored to be a hoax, before the Daily Beast confirmed that over 190,000 photos and 9,000 video hacked allegedly from a third party Snapchat client App have been released online, freaking-out thousands of Snapchat users.
According to Business Insider, majority of Snapchat users are Europeans, accounting for 32% of the leaked images. More worrisome is the fact that over 50% of its users are teenagers aged between 13-17 years, implying that the hack on SnapChat constitutes Child Pornography.
The gigantic 13.6GB files of hacked videos and photos first appeared on viralpop.com, a fake competition website, before going viral on Reddit and 4Chan. The bogus site has been suspended, but thousands of people had already download the hacked Snapchat files.
The Snappening comes in the Wake of “The Fappening” a major hack on Apple’s iCloud, in which nude photos of celebrities including Jennifer Lawrence, Kim Kardashian, and Rihanna were leaked online and distributed through 4Chan and Reddit. Ms. Lawrence labelled the scandal a “Sex crime”.
It is suspected that the architects of “The Fappening” also engineered the Snappening. News of the leak started in 4Chan discussion group last Friday. A Reddit user had also hinted that the Snappening would be “13GB of low resolution garbage”, non-explicit in nature.
Unlike the Fappening which selectively targeted celebrities, the Snappening targeted a mix of users, mostly teenagers who use SnapChat. It is estimated that Snapchat have over 100 million monthly users and over 700 million snaps daily.
Business Insider attributed the leak to a hacked third party Client app named SnapSave. The android app allowed users to secretly save photos and videos which could otherwise be automatically deleted if sent through the official SnapChat App.
Snapchat developer Georgie Casey refuted the claims that his App was hacked. “Our app had nothing to do with it and we’ve never logged username/passwords,” he told Engadget. He also said SnapSave doesn’t runs a cloud setup, suggesting the hacked SnapChat client was more likely to be a website rather than an App
Business Insider reported the hacked website to be SnapSaved.com. “A service that acted as a web client for the Snapchat app that allowed users to receive photos and videos, and save them online,” BI wrote. “What its users didn’t realize was that the site was quietly collecting everything that passed through it, storing incriminating Snapchats on a web server, with the usernames of senders attached.”
SnapSaved issued a statement over the weekend confirming the alleged hack. “I would like to inform the public that snapsaved.com was hacked, the dictionary index the poster is referring to, was never publicly available.”
Since its launch in 2011, Snapchat has been caught up in several privacy controversies. In 2013, Gibson Internet security firm found a vulnerability that could comprise the privacy of Snapchat Users. The internet Security firm claimed that hackers could easily find users number and their usernames by exploiting the said vulnerability. Snapchat initially downplayed the finding before 4.6 million Snapchat usernames and phone numbers were leaked online.
Snapchat has also been criticized for deceiving users about its self-destructive messages. Snapchat has always maintained that it notifies the sender when the recipient screenshots a snap on their devices. However users have also found ways to circumvent the App screenshot detection besides using other third Party apps to save photos and videos indefinitely.
Earlier in May, Federal Trade Commission took Jabs at Snapchat for what the commission called deceiving “consumers with promises about the disappearing nature of messages sent through the service.” said FTC Chairwoman Edith Ramirez. “If a company markets privacy and security as key selling points in pitching its service to consumers, it is critical that it keep those promises.”
A report dubbed “Who Has Your Back” released by Electronic Frontier Foundation, ranked SnapChat among the most unsecure online service providers. “This is particularly troubling because Snapchat collects extremely sensitive user data, including potentially compromising photographs of users,” read the report. “Given the large number of users and non-users whose photos end up on Snapchat, Snapchat should publicly commit to requiring a warrant before turning over the content of its users’ communications to law enforcement.”
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