So the idea behind Snapchat is to send someone a photo or video that is only available for a limited amount of time before it gets deleted. It is like one of those self-destructing messages you see in spy movies, only without the explosion or fire that goes along with that.
Snapchat is available for Apple's iOS operating system, and therefore available for iPhone and iPad, and Google's Android (no video it seems right now) operating system. The application puts you in control, or so it seems at least, when it comes to how long a photo or video is accessible by recipients that you select. You can for instance take a snapshot, set its expiration time to 10 seconds and send it to one or multiple friends.
Those friends have ten seconds after opening it to look at the photo or video after which the application will delete it automatically. What its used for? Sexting mostly, probably even though no one wants to admit that. It seems secure as your photos or videos will get deleted by the application automatically, so that you do not run the risk of them turning up on Internet sites.
Recipients can use their phone's screenshot feature if available to take a screenshot of what they see, but when that happens, Snapshot informs the sender about that. So, it is usually not an option. Someone on Reddit however found a way to save Snapchats without the sender knowing. You connect your phone to the computer, use a file browser to find a temporary file folder that the application uses and pick out the photos and videos that the app places in those folders whenever they appear.
The method lets you copy any Snapchats that you receive to your local system. It may be a bit impracticable, as you can't open it first to preview the photo or video, and that you need a computer to save the contents, but it is a serious issue for a service that promises to its users that what they send won't be available permanently.
A similar vulnerability has been found in Facebook's Poke app which seems to use a similar approach to saving files in a temporary folder.
Then again, Snapchat or Poke were never protected in first place against all copying options. You can for instance use your digital camera to take a snapshot of a photo you have received or video tape a video off of the screen without the sender ever knowing that this happened. It is probably good to remember that as long as it is visible somehow on the screen, it is copyable.
Ghacks is a technology news blog that was founded in 2005 by Martin Brinkmann. It has since then become one of the most popular tech news sites on the Internet with five authors and regular contributions from freelance writers.