Decipher Forensics Reveals Self-Destructed Snapchat 'Snaps' Can Be Undeleted
By Sam Goodwin | May 13, 2013 07:17 AM EDT
Utah-based Internet Safety Company Decipher Forensics has discovered a way to retrieve self-destructed Snapchat pictures.
For those who have never used Snapchat, this is the way it works. Snapchat is a message sending service that allows a user to send texts or pictures to friends, which self-destruct after a while. However, Utah-based Internet Safety Company Decipher Forensics has found a fatal flaw in this "self-destructing" characteristic of the application. According to the company, these deleted pictures can be restored and they don't "disappear forever" after self destroying.
"We wanted to know if 'snaps' really do 'disappear forever,'" digital forensics examiner Richard Hickman wrote in a blog post. "If there is metadata associated with 'snaps,' if 'snaps' can be recovered after becoming expired, and if they can be recovered, if there is metadata associated with the expired 'snap.'"
To find out, researchers used a Samsung Galaxy Note II and Galaxy S III with three different accounts and exchanged videos and pictures. After the "snaps" self destroyed themselves, the researchers went through the devices' internal networks to look for the videos and pictures. They discovered most of the "snaps" still existed along with all contacts stored on the device in the data/data/com.snapchat.android folder.
"The actual app is even saving the picture," Hickman told Utah news station KSL.com. "They claim that it's deleted, and it's not even deleted. It's actually saved on the phone." Commenting on the findings, Snapchat's vice president for communications, Mary Ritti, however, told U.S. News that the company is not paying much attention to the findings.
The new findings may cause a bit of an uproar among users especially teenagers who use this service for sexting. Pictures that they wouldn't want revealed may now be let out in the open causing much drama in their lives.
This is not the first time Snapchat has been accused of holding back users' content without their knowledge. Last December, the messaging service was accused of locally storing user information without their knowledge,which could be easily accessed using a free iPhone file browser.