'

Snapchat issues outright ban on third-party apps following 4chan hack

In a bid to shore up security under the gaze of the FTC, Snapchat has decided a ban on all third-party apps is the best solution.

Snapchat has begun issuing warnings to users about linking third-party apps to the platform's API, and will start locking the accounts of those who do not comply.

Screen Shot 2014-11-17 at 12.23.59

The messaging app is a popular service due to a feature that deletes data, including text and images, after they have been viewed by the recipient. However, the use of third-party apps that breach this private arena — as well as a recent cyberattack caused by this weak link in the chain — has been a cause for concern.

Dubbed "the Snappening" by users of the chat forum 4chan, in October, a database containing over 100,000 photos and videos sent across Snapchat networks was leaked online. A third-party Snapchat client app was to blame, which was able to steal images after malicious software installation.

In addition to this high-profile attack, the company apologized after 4.6 million Snapchat usernames and matched phone numbers were leaked at the beginning of the year.

Snapchat recently settled with the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) over allegations that the messaging service misled users over privacy, and collected user information in violation of its own policies. In addition, worries over screenshots being taken of messages and the use of third-party apps that are able to download data before it disappears has shadowed the company in recent times.

Snapchat agreed to revise its privacy policy after talks with the US watchdog and will be monitored by an independent privacy service for the next 20 years.

In a blog post, Snapchat provided an update on these problems, and says that while the firm has enjoyed some of the ways that developers have tried to make Snapchat better, "unfortunately, some developers build services that trick Snapchatters and compromise their accounts."

"We want to prevent that from happening in our community," Snapchat says. "Starting today, we will notify Snapchatters when we have detected that they may be using third-party apps and we’ll ask those Snapchatters to change their password and stop using unauthorized apps."

Within the company's support pages, Snapchat now states that using third-party applications to access Snapchat can not only compromise your account, but is now a "violation of our Terms of Use." The app developer says:

If you are using third-party applications to access Snapchat, please change your password and stop using these applications. If you continue to use these apps, we will have to lock your account.

If you have already been locked, you may be able to unlock your account by changing your password. If you do not stop using third-party applications, your account may be permanently locked.

Snapchat hardly has a stellar reputation for security, but this move may at least be in the right direction. However, Windows Phone users who are yet to be issued an offical app have not accepted the news happily.

Read on: In the world of security