Leaked Snapchat images came from third-party server

Snapchat is a mobile photo messaging app that allows users to send pictures that “self-destruct” a few moments after being viewed, and is especially popular with those who think it perfect for sending pictures of a delicate and private nature.

Unfortunately, the app’s internal API has been reverse-engineered and publicly released a little over a year ago, and since then used by a number of mobile apps to allow recipients to make a copy of the photos in question before Snapchat makes them disappear.

In its Terms of Use, Snapchat expressly forbids the use of third-party apps to send and receive snaps, but sadly, in the real world, this doesn’t mean much – users will continue doing what they want, and they want to keep some of the pictures for a wide variety of reasons.

Over the weekend, a member of the infamous 4chan imageboard website has announced that he(?) will be leaking an archive containing over 200,000 snaps sent by users. Apparently, there was also a partial leak of the videos and images.

He has announced that a searchable database of the image exists, and has been created by the creators of the SnapSaved.com website and service, from which the images have allegedly been stolen.

(SnapSaved is site that allowed Snapchat users to view and download images sent to them by other Snapchat users, and to save them without the sender’s knowledge.)

In the meantime, what seems to be the same 4chan user has announced that the pictures will not be leaked after all, and has claimed that “the administrator [of SnapSaved.com] compiled a full directory of the content and uploaded it to an un-indexed website where you could freely download it.”

Whoever is running SnapSaved.com – which, by the way, does not exist anymore – has denied these claims.

“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,” he or she noted in a Facebook post. “As soon as we discovered the breach in our systems, we immediately deleted the entire website and the database associated with it. As far as we can tell, the breach has effected 500MB of images, and 0 personal information from the database.”

“The hacker does not have sufficient information to live up to his claims of creating a searchable database,” the writer added. “I sincerely apologize on the behalf of snapsaved.com we never wished for this to happen. We did not wish to cause SnapChat or their users any harm, we only wished to provide a unique service.”

The only thing that seems certain in this mess is that the stolen images did not come from Snapchat’s servers, as confirmed by both these sources and Snapchat.

Snapchat may not be directly responsable for this situation, but many – including myself – think that they are partially to blame. While tech-savvy users know there are ways to circumvent Snaptchat’s deletion of sent images, most of those who are not believe their snaps to be safe and private, and act accordingly.

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