An alarming number of women have no idea that their private, nude photos posted on Photobucket, have been made public and are being passed around on Internet message boards.
An entire thread on Reddit is devoted to posting X-rated pictures stolen from the photo-sharing site.
Nude, explicit, and R-rated images uploaded on the online photo-hosting platform were in some cases made available to view on public Web forums dedicated to exploiting Photobucket''s privacy settings.
The forum has more than 10,000 members.
Unbelievably, another thread takes requests. Reddit users post names of girls whose private photos they want to see.
Skilled hackers are bypassing Photobucket’s security settings and scouring for naked photos users wanted to keep private. They use software to retrieve the hidden snaps, a disturbing trend known as “fusking.”
Photobucket users have the choice of making their albums or individual photos private, but every single photo still has its own URL.
The image title is part of the URL, and even if the URL is private, the title isn’t hard to guess.
For example, if a user has an image titled IMG_03 that is made public, they most likely have an IMG_04, even if it’s not public.
Frisking programs essentially speed up the guessing process and produce URLs for someone’s hidden photos, something like: http://www.photobucket/com/image/username/IMG_04.jpg.
Photobucket said that it’s aware of fusking and provides a URL scrambling service that makes photos harder to hack.
“Scrambled URLs have been an option for the past two years and will be the default for all new uploads,” the New York Daily News quoted Photobucket spokesman David Toner as telling CNN.
“The company is in the process of reminding users about the option to scramble URLs to prevent fusking,” he said.
Toner insisted that the breach of privacy is “very rare” and said it has “only affected a small number of Photobucket’s users.”
Hacking victim talks about perils of digital age
Experts suggest that the best way to avoid starring in your own X-rated Reddit show is to keep nude photos off the Internet altogether — private or not.
“Privacy settings on social media sites just can’t keep up with how fast technology is adapting,” social media attorney Ethan Wall said.
“As sites get more private, hackers and people who want to get more information will continue to get more sophisticated,” Wall added.