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Company Creates Tool to Retrieve Deleted Snapchats

May 10, 2013

Snapchat files can be retrieved.

By Gilbert Falso :: 3:14 PM

A Utah-based company has developed a data forensics tool that allows photos from the temporary photo sharing app Snapchat to be resurrected from a user’s smartphone.

The company, Decipher Forensics, has found that while the popular mobile application prevents users from seeing photos they receive after a sent amount of time, the images are not truly deleted from the device.

Research conducted by Decipher in coordination with Utah Valley University verifies that Snapchat simply alters the file extension of the photo that has been shared, which prevents the application from viewing it. The file itself remains on the phone. There is no way to prevent someone from removing the file from the phone and looking at it on a computer.

“This type of information can be very valuable in any investigation, especially one involving exploitation of a minor,” explained Decipher researcher Richard Hickman. “This research will help law enforcement officials retrieve what has been believed to be unrecoverable.”

Privacy experts have long been warning Snapchat users about the dangers of the application, especially for sharing risque or illegal images. Ray DeLong, a security consultant from RTD Communications says, “we’ve been telling people for a while now that once something is posted or sent through the Internet, it can never be truly deleted. It almost always exists out there somewhere, and with the right tools, someone can bring that file back.”

Right now, Decipher’s Snapchat recovery tool only works on Android devices. The company says it is currently building a tool to retrieve photos from the iPhone as well.