Expect All Free Mobile Apps to Leak Your Data

By: Robert Siciliano  |  November 4, 2014

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Mashable.com says that recently over 98,000 photos have been leaked from Snapsaved.com, which has shut down. The Snapchat app makers won’t take any credit, even though previously, 4.7 million phone numbers and usernames were leaked. The company seems indifferent, though this May, they reached a settlement with the FTC.

Snapchat blames third-party sites and apps for the leakage, and also users of Snapchat (mostly teens), rather than their servers being hacked, but can’t explain how this is. Nevertheless, there’s a problem with Snapchat’s product.

Third parties can come up with their own applications to interact with Snapchat. Anyone can construct an application to the Snapchat service. People like these apps even though they violate the TOS. And Snapchat, thanks to its flawed infrastructure, can’t tell legitimate traffic from third-party traffic.

Snapchat doesn’t consider that users could be communicating with people who are using third-party apps. To date, people using Snapchat to send an image can’t trust that privacy won’t be compromised. How would the user know that the receiver of the image isn’t using a third-party app that ultimately can unleash the images for all to see?

But Snapchat insists that the images can disappear rather than be shared. Snapchat is failing to inform users that their images can be leaked. Though the way that Snapchat’s terms of use is worded protects them legally, there’s a morality issue when the company expects its users (mostly ages 13-17) to have the wits to know about third-party users violating terms of use.

Snapchat says it has removed dozens of third-party apps from key app stores. But this doesn’t stop new websites and apps from appearing. And you can’t rid an app from every app store. What users can do in the meantime is realize that Snapchat is not secure, and to be careful whom you Snap with. Snapchat is about fun, not privacy.

Robert Siciliano is an identity theft expert to bestcompany.com discussing  identity theft prevention. For Roberts FREE ebook text- SECURE [email protected] -to 411247. Disclosures.

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