Ephemeral messaging player Snapchat played-down reports of its latest security breach, arguing that the issue resulted from “the use of third-party apps to send and receive Snaps, a practice we expressly prohibit in our terms of use”.

“We can confirm that Snapchat’s servers were never breached and were not the source of these leaks,” it said.

According to reports, links to supposedly intercepted images were posted late last week, although the link to the download was subsequently removed. The veracity of the content has not been confirmed, with some question marks about both the quantity and the authenticity of the images.

Reports suggest that hackers have a 13GB library of images which users thought had been deleted.

This is not the first time that the security of Snapchat has come under the spotlight. Last month, it was reported that users had received spam messages, although again the company pointed the finger at data sourced from other sites rather than a security breach.

The contact information of 4.6 million users was also published online early this year, as the result of a vulnerability in the app which Snapchat had worked to plug.

US regulator the Federal Trade Commission has also had its eye on Snapchat.

In some ways, the core features of Snapchat’s service – messages that are not stored – makes it an ideal target for ambitious hackers. The privacy and security the service offers coupled with the large and young demographic of its user base means it is likely to be used to send sensitive content, thereby creating an attractive focus for miscreants.

Mark James from security company ESET told the BBC that Snapchat’s line – that it is the fault of the users – is “harsh”. “They give the perception it is safe, they need to make it safe. They need to crack down on people’s ability to access their data,” he said.

Snapchat said that it has previously contacted Google and Apple to have unauthorised Snapchat clients removed from their respective stores. Some reports suggest that the current breach is related to a web app which provides access to Snapchat’s services from PCs.