After its launch in 2011, Snapchat quickly became one of the most widely used social media applications with up to 280 million daily active users worldwide. Even today, Snapchat is still one of the most popular social networking tools used by those between the ages of 15 to 25, beating out competitors such as Instagram, Twitter and Facebook.
The application works by allowing users to send photos, videos and chat messages to others. The appeal of this application came about with its “disappearing” or “temporary” nature of its images - the photos or videos sent can only be viewed by the other user for a certain period of time. This allowed users to freely send images and videos, it offered users a unique sense of freedom from the permanency of social media. As long as other users did not take screenshots or record videos, it was presumed that all images would disappear for good.
Snapchat claims that it has a strong commitment to privacy, however, the social media application has been criticized for its lack of adherence to this claim. Snapchat claims to use end-to-end encryption on its network, however, they fail to mention that this only applies to snaps, not text or group messages sent via the application. Furthermore, users have the option to save their “snaps” as “memories”, meaning that they are stored on the application and are believed to only be visible to the user. In reality, all of these memories are stored on Snapchat servers, so if they were to be hacked then those photos and videos would be exposed. Finally, “Snap Maps” is another snapchat feature that will automatically share your location with all your friends unless the user manually disables this function.
Choose to turn yourself on “Ghost Mode” in your settings which means that your location will be private and not shared with other users. Even if you still want to share your location, make sure you filter it so that only those you know and trust have access to your location services.
It is always good practice to enable two factor authentication for any application you have. This will require a second piece of information beyond simply your password to log into your account. This added layer of protection will keep your account more secure from hackers or potential cybercriminals.
Be careful to not send anything that you do not want to be public. Even though you think your images and messages will disappear, it is always important to consider the worst case scenario. In the event that someone screenshots your messages or photos, or a potential hacker exposes snapchats databases, it is always important to consider the potential for your content to be publicized.
Application updates often include important vulnerability patches, including fixing bugs or gaps in security. These updates will help prevent hackers from exposing previous vulnerabilities.
On Snapchat you can create private stories and selectively choose which users are able to interact with and view your contact. Furthermore, you can control who is able to contact you or add you. Change your account settings so that only those you want to contact you are able to access you.
It is always important to keep in mind that any application can be targeted by hackers. Major security breaches are always possible and it is important that you stay updated and take the necessary precautions to keep yourself safe. Are you worried about your mobile or personal security? Book an appointment today to talk with one of our cybersecurity experts on how you can improve your security!