Snapchat: are your snaps really gone forever?

They’ve changed their name, flipped off Facebook, and gathered a heap of funding, but can the creators of Snapchat fend off the accusations and rumours that their app doesn’t work as it’s supposed to? Here are a few things you should know.

Snapchat, formerly known as Picaboo, is yet another photo sharing application, which would make it sufficiently boring and only moderately popular if not for an ingenious twist. The pictures you share with your friends are deleted after a maximum of ten seconds. Or are they?

Digital forensics examiner Richard Hickman and his team at Decipher Forensics investigated the claim and discovered a way to extract the ‘deleted’ pictures. Apparently, the application does not get rid of the photographs but merely hides them from the phone by saving it with the file extension NOMEDIA. This makes it invisible to most people, but all the forensic experts have to do is take the photos out of the phone and change the extension so they can be seen again. It does take up to six hours, but if you think about whether there’s a huge difference between gone forever and seen again in a few hours, Snapchat have over-exaggerated their unique twist.

iPhone owners need not worry yet though, apparently Hickman and his team only discovered how to uncover photos on the Android app so Apple users are okay for now.

Of course that only concerns your photos being leaked. When it comes to your iPhone being overloaded with snaps from hackers and subsequently crashing, you are equally susceptible. According to cyber-security consultant, Jaime Sanchez, there is a security flaw in smartphones and iPhones that allows hackers to rapidly send thousands of snaps to phones and crash them. Sanchez proved this theory and made viral news after showing a Los Angeles Times reporter what happens when this hack occurs.

It’s also worth mentioning the hacking scandal from January that leaked 4.6 million Snapchat user’s information on the Internet. If you want to check if your information was leaked, you can go online and enter your username.

Similarly, there is now an app you can download that allows you to save snapchats. SnapHack, which is available to buy on app stores, allows you to sign in and open snaps from your snapchat account on their interface, which automatically saves them. This app is not officially associated with Snapchat.

With all of these scandals, it’s obvious that Snapchat isn’t as secure as it claims to be and if you look at the responses they’ve had to the issues they’re facing, it seems they thoroughly believe the cliché that ignorance is bliss: “We believe we have addressed the issue as early as Friday, and we continue to make significant progress in our efforts to secure Snapchat,” a Snapchat Representative said last week. Sure you have, SnapChat, sure you have.

Janine Kavanagh

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