Following Snapchat's recent username leak and increases in "Snap spam," the company today rolled out an interesting security measure to ensure that new users aren't spambots. Upon signing up for the first time, Snapchat now displays a unique challenge-response test that asks you to "find the ghost" in various pictures. If you pick the photos with ghosts, you pass, but if you pick other photos (as a robot might), the app won't allow you to sign up.
Today's new security measures (alongside recent changes to its API that limit user requests) should go a long way towards curtailing future spam and hacks. The test amounts to a sophisticated CAPTCHA, but presumably not so easily foiled by machines. Until now, Snapchat only required that you type in an email address, username, and password to sign up.
Update: Developer Steven Hickson has posted a proof for how any computer could easily bypass Snapchat's new security verification using rudimentary "computer vision" techniques. By mapping out the exact shape of the Snapchat ghost and providing the template to his computer, he was able to effectively bypass Snapchat's test with 100 percent accuracy. "This is an incredibly bad way to verify someone is a person because it is such an easy problem for a computer to solve," Hickson wrote. Snapchat will likely soon rectify the situation with a more secure mechanism. We'll update you when that happens.