Tens of thousands of pictures have been obtained by hackers from Snapchat users, and some have apparently already been posted on 4chan and other websites.
The hackers say that they obtained the pictures through an app linked to Snapchat, which allows users to save pictures for a longer time than the service typically allows.
The 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,” noted Business Insider.
The app has been reported as Snapsave, though developer Georgie Casey denied the applications.
An anonymous photo trader said on 4chan that the app is actually SnapSaved.
“The service acted as a web client for the Snapchat app that allowed users to receive photos and videos, and save them online. 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,” BI noted.
The hack means tens of thousands of pictures that Snapchat users thought were gone are actually starting to circulate online, appearing on 4chan and other websites such as Viral Pop.
4chan users told blogger Kenny Withers, who appears to have first reported on the hack, that “their original plan was, and continues to be, to take the leaked images and database that they hacked, and create a website where anyone will be able to search for their favorite snapchatter for nude pictures. They have set a temporary deadline of October 12, 2014.”
Hackers discussing the pictures on 4chan said that about 200,000 pictures will be appearing online soon.
Hackers said that the pictures are both from the sent and received usernames.
And one said that there are lots of nude pictures among the trove. “There are a lot of dick pics,” said one. “Just a warning.”
That aspect of the hack has led to it being dubbed “The Snappening,” which plays off the name given to the celebrity photos hack that has continued into October.
Snapchat is an app that enables users to send and receive pictures and videos that quickly vanish. The sender chooses how many seconds, from 1 to 10, the recipient can view the material before it disappears.
But some apps such as SnapSaved enable the recipient to keep the pictures for longer than the sender intended, appearing to lead to the huge database that has now been obtained by hackers.
The Daily Mirror notes that the pictures that are appearing online could include children as young as 10 years old.
“Half of Snapchat users are aged between 13 and 17, and there are grave fears that tens of thousands of leaked images will be of under-age UK children who have been persuaded or bullied into sending naked shots of themselves,” it said.
The NSPCC recently found that as many as 40 percent of young children have been swapping images of a sexual nature via Snapchat.
“Schoolgirls in the UK are increasingly becoming victims of a craze dubbed ‘porn to order’ after being duped into sending rude selfies,” it said.
Snapchat released a statement after news of the hack emerged, distancing itself from responsibility.
“We can confirm that Snapchat’s servers were never breached and were not the source of these leaks,” a spokesperson said in a written statement.
For those interested in being secure online, Withers noted: “Basic rule of thumb… If you don’t want a picture to be seen by anyone, DON’T UPLOAD IT to any cloud service, or use any app. They are simply not safe and can’t provide you complete privacy.”