Snapchat is one of the most popular photo-sharing apps on the planet, but it hasn’t been without its fair share of hiccups. First, there was the security breach that exposed the usernames and phone numbers of over a million users (which has since been resolved). And now it looks like various users have been the victims of explicit spam.
According to Symantec researchers, users have received spam messages with nude photos from automated accounts designed to look like actual people. The photos don’t appear until the receiving user accepts the person as a friend, but considering how legitimate the person looks, it would be an easy mistake to make.
The process of the spammer is pretty simple: after the friend request is accepted, they ask the user to add them on the messaging app Kik to receive more nude photos. If the person is a horndog, they'll probably oblige and will be prompted to download a mobile app, which includes a multitude of small games. More explicit photos are promised by the spammer if the user screenshots their phone verifying that the game has been installed.
Kevin Haley, the director for Symantec’s response team, believes that the mobile app developers are not at fault. He believes it’s the firms that these app makers are hiring that are behind the issue.
"They're getting paid to get users to download this application," says Haley. "The vendor of the application doesn't really care how they do it, so they can come up with some creative ways... in essence they fool users or trick them into downloading this application and now the mobile application vendor has a lot of new users."
When a large app takes off, it’s inevitable that someone will be looking to take advantage of it for their own personal, and monetary, gain. However, the lesson here is simple: don’t accept friend requests from naked strangers.