14 October 2014

Thousands of photos and videos have been leaked after a third-party app used to covertly save photos taken with Snapchat, was breached.

Snapchat is a social media smartphone app used by millions of people to share photos and videos, often intimate or explicit in nature. It was designed specifically to delete messages and photos shortly after the recipient views a message. Snapchat’s user base includes a high proportion of young people.

A number of third-party apps have been developed which can be used to save received Snapchat images without the sender’s knowledge, before the images ‘self-destruct’. One online service that is used to save messages, Snapsaved, has been breached and images saved to Snapsaved.com have been leaked online. The Snapsaved.com website was taken down following the breach.

Snapchat has stated its own servers were not breached. It also states that these ‘third-party apps’ are prohibited in its Terms of Use.

There has been significant media coverage of these events in recent days, including claims and discussion sourced from anonymous online users, which makes verified information difficult to obtain.

Current claims include that between 500MB and 13GB of images and video has been stolen, or approximately 98,000 files. These events continue to unfold.

Staying safe

Even without third-party apps, someone who receives a Snapchat image can still use a second device to take a photo of the image while it displays on screen, or they may be able to take a screenshot.

These events, and recently reported celebrity photo thefts, highlight how difficult it can be to maintain your privacy online. Ultimately, there are no absolute guarantees about your information online. The best way to manage your privacy is to limit the availability of personal information you disclose. When you do offer information online, choose reputable sites, apps and services you know and trust.

More information

Stay Smart Online may provide further advice if more information can be confirmed. You can read media reporting and discussion about this on most news sites including Mashable and the Independent.

Stay Smart Online has previously advised of a breach affecting Snapchat.

Stay Smart Online has more information on protecting yourself online and about securing your mobile phone.

The information provided here is of a general nature. Everyone's circumstances are different. If you require specific advice you should contact your local technical support provider.

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Disclaimer

This information has been prepared by Enex TestLab for the Department of Communications ('the Department'). It was accurate and up to date at the time of publishing.

This information is general information only and is intended for use by private individuals and small to medium sized businesses. If you are concerned about a specific cyber security issue you should seek professional advice.

The Commonwealth, Enex TestLab, and all other persons associated with this advisory accept no liability for any damage, loss or expense incurred as a result of the provision of this information, whether by way of negligence or otherwise.

Nothing in this information (including the listing of a person or organisation or links to other web sites) should be taken as an endorsement of a particular product or service.

Please note that third party views or recommendations included in this information do not reflect the views of the Commonwealth, or indicate its commitment to a particular course of action. The Commonwealth also cannot verify the accuracy of any third party material included in this information.

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