By Jacob Collins |Staff Writer|
An unauthorized third party service that saves SnapChat photos called Snapsaved was hacked on Thursday, Oct. 9.
According to The Daily Beast, about 90 thousand photos were leaked.
Forbes Magazine states that as many as 200 thousand photos may have been leaked.
The attack has been dubbed as, “The Snappening” by 4Chan and Reddit users, referencing the iCloud hack which occurred over the summer called, “The Fappening.”
This attack is different, however. The iCloud attack was targeted toward celebrities but “The Snappening” is an un-targeted attack that impacts a large amount of SnapChat users.
According to a statement made by SnapChat, the majority of affected users are in Europe and are between the ages of 13 and 17.
As a result of the hack, Snapsaved alerted users of the breach through social media.
“I would like to inform the public that Snapsaved.com was hacked. The dictionary index the poster is referring to was never publicly available. We had a misconfiguration in our Apache server. SnapChat has not been hacked and these images do not originate from their database,” said the third party Snapsaved.com in a statement on their Facebook page.
Snapsaved.com has now been shut down and users are warned not to seek out the photos.
According to an International Business Times article, some of these photos are explicit with underage children and distributing, downloading and viewing child pornography can carry severe penalties including a prison sentence up to 20 years, according to experienced criminal lawyers.
SnapChat was created by Josh Meyers, Reggie Brown and Bobby Murphy. It is a messaging app that allows users to send photos and videos with text and drawings to their friends.
The media is meant to be deleted automatically after being opened by the recipients. SnapChat has approximately 100 million active users, according to a Mashable article.
When student Courtney Polk learned about the hack she was shocked.
“People’s personal pictures that they thought would only last for seconds are now out on the internet for everyone to see. It defeats the purpose of SnapChat,” said Polk.
Privacy has been a touchy and complicated issue with the rise of technology.
“Privacy is an interesting piece. People say they want privacy but seem to be willing to trade it on a whim. For example, last year Sony released a free album through a special app for Android. When you installed the app it downloaded all your recent contacts and calls right off your phone. Did that dissuade people? No,” stated Tony Coulson, Ph.D. professor and director of the cyber security center in an email interview.
Although the leak was not directly caused by SnapChat, the strength of its application programing interface (API) is being called into question.
“Since 2012, security researcher Adam Caudill has been warning that the company’s API had several serious security flaws, something numerous other researchers have seconded,” according to an article by tech news website The Verge.
This isn’t the first time SnapChat has had security problems.
In 2013, a list of phone numbers associated with SnapChat accounts was leaked online.
February 2014 users who had their phone numbers compromised were sent pictures of fruit smoothies by the hackers.
Just recently, in May, SnapChat was found guilty in a Federal Trade Commission (FTC) lawsuit of deceptive promises that pictures via the app were going to be “deleted.”
The photos remain on the internet and no plan has been made to remove them.