Thousands of Snapchat images may have been hacked via a third-party image-saving service

The database of a Snapchat image-saving service — not associated with Snapchat itself — has allegedly been hacked, and the hackers have claimed on 4chan that they will make hundreds of thousands of Snapchat users’ private images and videos available in a searchable database.

Snapchat’s popular service lets people send each other self-destructing pictures, but there are ways to get round this limitation. There seems to be some confusion as to whether the affected image-saving service was Snapsave, an Android app that is no longer available in the [company]Google[/company] Play Store, or (as Business Insider has reported) a now-defunct site called SnapSaved.com, but either way we’re talking about a service that lets the recipients of Snapchat pictures save them for repeated viewing, without notifying the sender of this.

There are several 4chan threads relating to this so-called “Snappening” – some referred to the recent hack of celebrities’ nude selfies that were stored in Apple’s iCloud as the “Fappening” – and there is no way I’m linking to them, because the 4chan forum is not a good place (I’m feeling somewhat depressed after my visit this morning, to be honest). Here’s a limited and nasty screenshot though:

Snapchat 4chan thread

The truth of the matter is of course hard to pin down right now, but earlier this week an anonymous poster said he had hacked into the image-saving service’s cloud server, and some pictures were apparently posted on 4chan as “proof.”

I actually didn’t see that thread myself, which is fine with me – given Snapchat’s youth-skewed demographic, a good number of them will almost certainly qualify as child pornography. However, I have seen some so-called “PG-13” images from the “proof” dump on a blogger’s website, which I would link to if it weren’t for the fact that the images still violate the victims’ privacy. (The blogger also links to many of the celebrity images from the earlier hack, which is not OK.)

As a Friday article in Norway’s Dagbladet stated, a raw index of the images was then posted on Thursday – according to the aforementioned blog, this seems to have been posted on a website called Viralpop, which was suspended by its host hours later.

There are allegedly 200,000 of these images, and the hackers claim they are preparing a site where they will be searchable by the victims’ Snapchat user IDs.

“We can confirm that Snapchat’s servers were never breached and were not the source of these leaks,” Snapchat said in an emailed statement on Friday. “Snapchatters were victimized by their use of third-party apps to send and receive Snaps, a practice that we expressly prohibit in our Terms of Use precisely because they compromise our users’ security. We vigilantly monitor the App Store and Google Play for illegal third-party apps and have succeeded in getting many of these removed.”

Of course, there’s a good chance that many of these photos will be entirely innocuous. Snapchat isn’t only used for sexting, but that is a frequent use case and, given what services such as Snapsave/SnapSaved are for, many if not most of these pictures will likely be sexual in nature. Again – this cannot be stressed enough – Snapchat is used by a lot of kids and many of these images are probably highly illegal.

This article was updated at 7am PT to include Snapchat’s statement. I’m afraid I have no idea how to contact the Snapsave or SnapSaved developers to get their side of the story.