If you’re like me or the millions of other fresh off the boat users this year, you’ve probably found a new picture messaging haven in the fun, offbeat world of Snapchat. On paper the idea sounds impractical and unusable, but it turns out this limited-time-offer style of visual communication has proved a hit, and the company was just spotted turning down a $3 billion valuation from companies like Facebook back in November of this year.
Although each picture or snippet-sized video only lasts in the ether for a maximum of 8 seconds, hackers have discovered a way to exploit the code of the program to download and store the content that you and your friends send each other throughout the day.
Discovered and published by security outfit Gibson Security, the exploit enables attackers to grab the telephone number and location data of a user simply by reading the .EXIF data that exists on each “chatted snap” (a new term I’ve come up with the designate the pictures transmitted between phones).
“The… exploit could be used to create thousands of accounts, which could be used for spam.” — Gibson Security
This is not the first bit of controversy to grace the offices of the wildly successful startup — last year the company had to answer to accusations that their app was being used by pedophiles worldwide in a covert, secretive attempt at sharing child pornography without anyone else becoming the wiser. The temporary nature of each photo also enables users to take screenshots if they wish to save a sent image for later, and with these tools the ring of deviants were able to workaround the time limit and send each other masses of illegal content to and from each other’s devices.
Snapchat has reportedly known about the exploit since August, but has made no attempts to patch the hole on their own. According to Gibson, the entire issue could be fixed with “ten lines of code”, and now that the company has released yet another update without a solution, they have decided to go public with what they know in the hopes it changes their mind.
Whenever you use an app on your phone, there are dozens of bits of data being transferred to various servers all around the world. Because of this, it’s a good idea to have a mobile VPN solution installed and running at all times.
We love the Express VPN app, and once you try it out you will too!