The internet just got a lot creepier, thanks to randy (or just rude) troublemakers figuring out a loophole in the layered security measures of a photo sharing and storage website.
Dozens of pictures of nude and scantily-clad women have found their way onto forum sites like Reddit and 4chan after a loophole in Photobucket’s privacy settings was discovered. The site allows for accounts and albums to be private, but all individual pictures are public so long as a user has a direct URL. By finding the URL of one image in an album, someone can deduce the other URLs. In an example highlighted by CNN, an album with an image labeled IMG_03.jpg would most likely have images labeled as IMG_06 and IMG_07 as well.
To automate the process of accessing photos in private albums, voyeurs use “fusking” programs that run through possible URLs and generate results, according to NBCNews.com.
A Reddit thread containing racy images gathered from Photobucket has more than 10,000 members, the New York Daily News reported.
“As sites get more private, hackers and people who want to get more information will continue to get more sophisticated,” Ethan Wall, a Miami-based social media attorney, said to CNN.
How to avoid online embarrassment
Photobucket spokesman David Toner told CNN that fusking “is a very rare occurrence that has affected only a small number of Photobucket’s users,” and that the site is taking steps to address potential problems.
“Scrambled URLs have been an option for the past two years and will be the default for all new uploads,” Toner said. “The company is in the process of reminding users about the option to scramble URLs to prevent fusking.”
The best way to avoid fusking and other issues, according to Wall, is to be vigilant about social media posts.
“[M]any people have Photobucket accounts left from the MySpace days that are just gathering dust, potentially with some risqué photos in ‘private’ albums,” Katie Notopoulos of BuzzFeed FWD wrote for NBC News. “If you were dumb enough to be taking nude photos (don’t ever take nude photos. In fact, don’t be nude, ever. Just avoid the whole thing), you better delete those pictures, ASAP, people.”
Is fusking a problem due to a lack of proper security measures by Photobucket, or should users just have been more careful with what was posted online? Leave your comment below to let us know what you think!