Snapchat users may rethink the photos they exchange on the app.
Richard Hickman, a 24-year old forensics examiner from Utah, found that it’s possible to pull Snapchat photos from Android phones by downloading data from the phone using forensics software and removing a “.NoMedia” file extension that keeps the photos from being viewed on the device.
Hickman, who is employed by Decipher Forensics, published his findings online and visited local TV station KSL to show how it’s done.
“I was surprised no one else had done it because of how easy it was,” said Hickman. “It just took a couple of days to discover it.”
Hickman started the research in a Mobile Forensics class this spring. He said it’s come in useful at Decipher Forensics as clients have wanted Snapchat evidence from phones in divorce and missing teenager cases. He said they have grabbed 60 to 70 deleted Snapchats from phones thus far, with at least 40 photos taken from just one phone.
Hickman is now doing research on Snapchat recovery from the iPhone. A few months ago, Buzzfeed found at least one flaw that made it seem possible. Snapchat founder responded to Buzzfeed by saying, “The people who most enjoy using Snapchat are those who embrace the spirit and intent of the service. There will always be ways to reverse engineer technology products – but that spoils the fun!”