Snapchat sexting spam - how to stop messages from Honey Crush 9 and her friends

Filed Under: Featured, Mobile, Privacy, Spam

SnapchatSnapchat, which claims to deliver more than 150 million saucy photos per day between users' mobile phones, has suffered this week from a spam attack.

It's possible - if you are over the age of 17 - that you still don't know what Snapchat is.

It's a smartphone app, available for both iPhone and Android devices, that allows users to control how long a sent message or picture can be seen for, before it expires after a maximum of 10 seconds.

Still not getting the idea? Well, maybe this will help explain the attraction. The service has become notorious because some have touted it as a way of safely "sexting" and sharing naked pictures. Meanwhile, others have argued that it's not safe at all.

What isn't in doubt, however, is that Snapchat has become immensely popular - particularly among young people.

And so it wasn't really a surprise to see users complain that they had been sent photos from scantily-clad women with names such as "Honey.Crush9" inviting them to join them in a Skype conversation.

Snapchat spam, and Twitter comments from victims

Receiving such a sleazy photograph can certainly get you into trouble (see the Twitter conversation above, where one user explains her boyfriend would have had some serious questions to answer if "Honey Crush" had turned out to be a secret saucy admirer of his rather than a spammer), but there are other potential security risks.

The messages sent via Snapchat encouraged recipients to connect with the apparent sexy senders on Skype. Once you've made sexy Honey your Skype friend, she could exploit you in a number of ways.

For instance, "she" could send you malicious links with the promise of a webcam chat, or send you spammy links to a dating website, or make automated Skype calls to spread fake anti-virus warnings.

In some of the more eyebrow-raising situations she might enter into a steamy webcam conversations with you, where she strips and encourages you to do the same... only to take photos and video footage for the purposes of blackmail.

Snapchat's CEO and co-founder Evan Spiegel posted a message on the site's official blog apologising for the spam attack, and offering advice to users.

Statement from Snapchat

The reason why so many people received unsolicited photos from Honey Crush and her spamming counterparts is that Snapchat allows anyone to send you photo messages. By default, anyone who knows your username or phone number (or who can guess it) can send you a message.

To protect yourself from Snapchat spam like the examples seen above, you can configure the app to only accept messages from users on your list of friends.

According to Snapchat's FAQ, you can change this setting. It tells users to tap the camera icon as if you are going to take a picture, then, tap the square button on the bottom right corner of the screen.

Select "Settings", go to "Who can send me snaps...", and select "My Friends" instead of "Everyone."

What a shame Snapchat didn't make this the default in the first place...

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4 Responses to Snapchat sexting spam - how to stop messages from Honey Crush 9 and her friends

  1. Nice article (and follow up from the snapchat sexting / security article). Perhaps you should draw peoples attention to a JailBroken app named Flex too. Flex is an awesome app which, for want of better words, allows you to hack applications on the fly by simply turning a patch on or off. (Yes, I have Flex, Yes I have SnapChat & Yes I used Flex to patch snapchat).... Flex allows snapchat to be patched in a way that does NOT delete the content once the timer has expired. Infact, the timer becomes invalid, hidden and yes screenshots can be taken without the sender being aware. The sender could also remain unaware that you have even opened the snap! People that think it is safe to send saucy snaps via snapchat need to be more "open" to understanding the technology and other programs out there before presuming it is safe.

  2. daniellynet · 371 days ago

    "The service has become notorious because some have touted it as a way of safely "sexting" and sharing naked pictures."
    Ah. I've heard of Snapchat and that you could use it for chatting, but not much more than that.
    Still, if I ever wanted to share naked pictures or similar I'd encrypt everything instead of using some third party service with a timer for deletion.

    "In some of the more eyebrow-raising situations she might enter into a steamy webcam conversations with you, where she strips and encourages you to do the same... only to take photos and video footage for the purposes of blackmail."
    Never understood how people could fall for that, unless they're really young (although I haven't heard of cases with really young people before).

  3. john · 371 days ago

    to be fair, the majority of websites and applications with a message feature don't make the default permissions to receive from friends only

  4. njorl · 368 days ago

    Nothing wrong with "naked pictures", but if the people pictured are naked, this needs to be tasteful, and fully justified by the plot.

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About the author

Graham Cluley is an award-winning security blogger, and veteran of the anti-virus industry having worked for a number of security companies since the early 1990s. Now an independent security analyst, he regularly makes media appearances and gives computer security presentations. Send Graham an email, subscribe to his updates on Facebook, follow him on Twitter and App.net, and circle him on Google Plus for regular updates.