Hundreds Of Thousands Of Teens Have Had Their Snapchat Photos And Videos Intercepted By Hackers

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makati city selfie

Instagram/@jesterdeveyra

A selfie posted online. This isn't one of the photos from the Snapchat hack.

A giant database of intercepted Snapchat photos and videos has been released by hackers who have been collecting the files for years. Shocked users of notorious chat forum 4chan are referring to the hack as "The Snappening," noting that this is far bigger in scale than the iCloud hacks that recently targeted celebrities.

Underground photo trading chatrooms have been filled in recent weeks with hints that something big was coming. Last night it finally arrived: A 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.

Users of 4chan have downloaded the files, and are currently in the process of creating a searchable database allowing people to search the stolen images by Snapchat username.

4chan users talking about the snappening

4chan

The database of Snapchat files posted online was hosted on viralpop.com, a fake competition website that installed malicious software on the computers of users trying to take part. That site has now been suspended and taken offline, although thousands of people have already downloaded the collection of Snapchats.

This is what the collection of intercepted Snapchat photos and videos looked like:

Snapsaved directory

Viralpop

There are two sites that may have been hacked

One news report claims that the hacked third-party Snapchat client was Snapsave. The popular Android app allowed users to keep Snapchat photos and videos, which automatically delete when viewed through the official Snapchat app. However, Snapchat's improved security meant that the app eventually stopped working, as the company began encrypting photos and videos.

Snapsave Google Play store screenshot

Google Play Store

But an anonymous photo trader contacted Business Insider to inform us that the site affected was actually SnapSaved.com. 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.

This is what SnapSaved looked like in Oct. 2013:

Snapsaved

Snapsaved.com

SnapSaved disappeared several months ago. Now the URL redirects to a Danish e-commerce site that sells set-top boxes and television antennas. The majority of the intercepted Snapchat photographs posted online featured overlaid messages in Danish.

4chan users claim that SnapSaved was indeed the source of the intercepted files:

Snappening screenshot

4chan

We don't know whether the third-party Snapchat client, whether Snapsave or SnapSaved, was created with the purpose of intercepting images. It may have been the case that hackers accessed the servers of one of the sites, which had inadvertently stored the files, and rehosted the directory online.

4chan users claim that the collection of photos has a large amount of child pornography, including many videos sent between teenagers who believed the files would be immediately deleted after viewing. 50% of Snapchat's users are teenagers aged between 13 and 17.

Snapchat has a poor history when it comes to the security of users' data. In 2013 security researchers revealed that it was possible to find the phone number of any Snapchat user through the app. 4.6 million usernames and phone numbers leaked online on New Year's Day, and the company was forced to apologize. In Feb. 2014, hackers used Snapchat to send photos of fruit smoothies to thousands of people.

Business Insider reached out to Snapchat for comment on this story and we will update it when we hear back.

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