Mission Possible – Finding Snapchat Photos

The mobile app Snapchat continues its atmospheric rise in popularity. As of April, 150 million “snaps’ were sent daily.  The majority of these snaps are little more than silly expressions, breakfast shots or fashion critiques. The success of Snapchat is built on the idea of sending trivial photo messages to friends without leaving a trace. Consequently the continued attempts by the tech community to reconstruct erased images are worrisome to more than those who have used Snapchat for sexting.

A forensic computing company in Utah has cracked the code on finding and reopening received snaps. The images remain saved in the phone and are saved with a .nomedia file name. This extension can be ignored using downloadable forensic tools and image can be reopened.

Currently Decipher Forensics can only discover snaps that have been sent to Android phones but they are working on developing a similar solution for IOS. Social networks like Facebook and Twitter are created to share information with as many people as you have on your network. Snapchat markets it’s self on more personal one to one sharing. While your snaps certainly have more privacy than your status updates, this discovery proves once again that nothing on the internet is private and anytime you trust a third party with your information you risk losing control over it.

Shane Dingman wrote about this discovery in the Globe and Mail using language which was nothing less than hyperbolic. For example the scenario of “Snaps detailing a criminal conspiracy, and[then] that device fell into the hands of the police”, might not be the main user demographic of Snapchat. Nevertheless, Snapchat isn’t a fail proof system. So go ahead, keep sending those quirky up the nose shots but think twice before sending anything that could harm your digital identity.

Do you use Snapchat? Are you concerned about the privacy of your photos?

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