Snapchat users are getting a reality check with the news that photos taken using the app have, indeed, been saved over the years–and hackers have made them available. For the past three+ years, Snapchat has skyrocketed in popularity by reassuring its users the “Snaps” are gone forever, never to be seen again. Today, we are learning what many have predicted the entire time. Those photos are somewhere…and now we know where.
James Cook from Business Insider reports, “A giant database of intercepted Snapchat photos and videos has been released by hackers who have been collecting the files for years. Shocked users of the notorious chat forum 4chan are referring to the hack as “The Snappening,” noting that this is far bigger than the iCloud hacks that recently targeted celebrities.
Underground photo-trading chat rooms have been filled in recent weeks with hints that something big was coming. Thursday night it finally arrived: A third-party Snapchat client app has been collecting every single photo and video file sent through it for years, giving hackers access to a 13GB library of Snapchats that users thought had been deleted.”
Users of 4chan have downloaded the files and are creating a searchable database that will allow people to search the stolen images by Snapchat username.”
Read more: http://www.businessinsider.com/snapchat-hacked-the-snappening-2014-10#ixzz3FlN8597a
According to the article, Snapchat itself wasn’t hacked. It was a database of Snapchat files hosted by viralpop.com, “a fake competition website that installed malicious software on the computers of users trying to take part. That site has now been suspended and taken offline, although thousands of people have already downloaded the collection of Snapchats”.
Snapchat’s website makes it clear that their company does not save the photos:
“Storage: As mentioned in our previous blog post, Snaps are deleted from our servers after they are opened by their recipients. So what happens to them before they are opened? Most of Snapchat’s infrastructure is hosted on Google’s cloud computing service, App Engine. Most of our data, including unopened Snaps, are kept in App Engine’s datastore until they are deleted.”
As for retrieval (of unopened Snaps), Snapchat’s blog states the following:
“Retrieval: Is Snapchat capable of retrieving unopened Snaps from the datastore? Yes—if we couldn’t retrieve Snaps from the datastore, we wouldn’t be able to deliver them to their recipients desired by the sender. Do we manually retrieve and look at Snaps under ordinary circumstances? No. The ordinary process of sending Snaps to their recipient(s) is automated.
Since May 2013, about a dozen of the search warrants we’ve received have resulted in us producing unopened Snaps to law enforcement. That’s out of 350 million Snaps sent every day.
Law enforcement requests sometimes require us to preserve Snaps for a time, like when law enforcement is determining whether to issue a search warrant for Snaps.
Only two people in the company currently have access to the tool used for manually retrieving unopened Snaps, our co-founder and CTO, Bobby (who coded it), and me.”
For a full overview of the Snapchat app, go to my page Snapchat 101, which includes the latest Snapchat updates.