Nerval's Lobster writes "Snapchat isn't having the best 2014: less than a week after a cyber-security collective revealed an exploit that could allow hackers to swipe users' personal data from the messaging service, a couple hackers reportedly went right ahead and stole 4.6 million usernames and phone numbers, posting them as a downloadable database. It's easy to see why Snapchat's become so popular: the idea of messages that vaporize within a few seconds of opening holds a lot of appeal to not only the excessively paranoid, but also anyone who simply wants to keep their online footprint to a minimum. But as several security experts are pointing out, the idea of 'disappearing messages' was never a foolproof one. 'If you took a photo of your phone while the risky image was on screen, or took a screenshot, or dumped your phone's graphics RAM, or used basic forensic data recovery techniques to retrieve the "deleted" files after viewing them, or fetched the image through a session-logging web proxy,' Phil Ducklin wrote in a Jan. 1 posting on the Naked Security Website, 'then you'd quickly have realised that Snapchat's promises of "disappearing images" were fanciful.' For those who no longer trust Snapchat, but want that same vaporizing-message functionality, some alternatives exist, including Silent Circle (which offers a messaging app, for a subscription fee, that forces messages to self-destruct after a set period of time) and Wickr (features military-grade encryption — AES256, ECDH521, RSA4096, TLS — and the app-builders claim they don't have the keys to decrypt; messages vaporize after a set time)."