Kickin’ Kik

What is it?

Kik is a free instant messaging app, which works on iPhones, Androids and Kindles. As of May 2016, Kik Messenger had approximately 300 million registered users, and was used by approximately 40% of United States teenagers[i]. Of its 15 million monthly active users, 57% are in the 13-24 age bracket[ii]. The functionality of the app is not limited to text messages alone as the users can communicate via video calls and find groups according to their interests, often meeting new people there. It also received dubious accolades for being the most convenient teenage sexting app[iii] due to its anonymity (the app asks for the user’s name and email address, which could be fictitious, and the user does not have to supply a phone number).

This type of activity and popularity should not go unnoticed.

Potential threats

As a convicted child molester told CBS News’ 48 Hours, Kik is a “predator’s paradise[i]”. And this is certainly true.

According to the National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC) the number of referrals police have received relating to the app for child abuse images and grooming has surged from a monthly average of 48 in 2016 to 195 in 2018. As a result, UK police forces have opened more than 1,500 investigations involving Kik in 2018[ii].

The most common cases are those of acquiring nude photos of teens through blackmailing them, promising to send their nudes to their parents unless they submit more[iii].

But there are much worse cases.

A 15-year-old girl got in a car with a man she knew only through Kik, who held her captive for nearly a month, raped her and video-recorded the act[iv].

Nicole Madison Lovell – a 13 y. o. liver-transplant and cancer survivor[v] – was kidnapped and killed[vi] by two Virginia Tech freshmen she communicated with on Kik, agreeing to meet them offline before her disappearance[vii].

A registered sex offender living in St. Louis was running a child pornography group on the Kik messaging app[viii].

William Steinhaus took sexually explicit pictures of himself with a 2-year-old and shared them on Kik with other users, some of whom he talked with about what to do to the infant[ix].

A man from Birmingham traveled to Blountsville to meet the girl he chatted with on Kik. He raped her and tried to kidnap her from school[x]. Luckily, the police were there to prevent the kidnapping.

A man from Colorado took a 13-year-old Connecticut girl to a hotel and sexually assaulting her, after chatting and arranging the meeting on Kik[xi].

Unfortunately, these types of crimes continue to happen around the world.

Investigating Kik in Oxygen Forensic® Detective powered by Oxygen Forensic® Detective, powered by Jet Engine.

Kik does not have the ability to view written messages between users, or to show them to the police. It can view pictures and videos, but only until the recipient’s device has received the message. With a court order or in a dire emergency the company can provide the authorities with a log of a user’s sent and received messages, and in some cases can supply the user’s Internet protocol address, giving a physical location[i].

Thus, Oxygen Forensic® Detective might prove useful in investigating Kik data.

Oxygen Forensic® Detective extracts data both from non-jailbroken and jailbroken Apple devices, Android physical dumps and device backups. The extracted data includes account information, contacts, private and group chats as well as attached media. All of it might prove crucial when investigating blackmailing, child abuse, kidnapping, etc.

We hope that with the new version of Oxygen Forensic® Detective you will be in time to save a life or prevent a crime from happening.

Kik data as viewed in Oxygen Forensic Detective, powered by Oxygen Forensic JetEngine.

[i] https://www.nytimes.com/2016/02/06/us/social-media-apps-anonymous-kik-crime.html

[i] https://www.cbsnews.com/news/kik-app-statement-to-48-hours-may-2017/

[ii] https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2018/09/21/children-risk-kik-app-senior-police-officer-warns-child-abuse/

[iii] https://www.abc-7.com/story/32479826/kik-the-worst-most-dangerous-app-for-kids

[iv]https://www.stltoday.com/news/local/crime-and-courts/warren-county-man-accused-of-holding-raping–year-old/article_1fca00be-8ffa-51c1-acd2-89cb2b6b7a9a.html

[v]https://www.nytimes.com/2016/02/03/us/virginia-girl-13-was-probably-stabbed-the-day-she-vanished-officials-say.html?module=inline

[vi] https://www.cbsnews.com/news/nicole-lovell-murder-smartphone-predator-stranger-danger-killer-app/

[vii] https://www.nytimes.com/2016/02/06/us/social-media-apps-anonymous-kik-crime.html?_r=0

[viii]https://www.stltoday.com/news/local/crime-and-courts/feds-sex-offender-living-in-st-louis-operated-child-porn/article_41419cbb-6954-5a0d-ab39-4f498dbd222b.html

[ix] https://www.localdvm.com/news/brunswick-man-gets-additional-jail-time-for-child-pornography-charges/

[x] https://www.al.com/news/birmingham/2016/01/man_35_tried_to_check_girl_out.html

[xi] https://www.courant.com/breaking-news/hc-new-london-sex-assault-0127-2-20160126-story.html

[i] https://techcrunch.com/2016/05/11/kik-already-has-over-6000-bots-reaching-300-million-registered-users/

[ii] https://www.forbes.com/sites/thomasbrewster/2017/08/03/kik-has-a-massive-child-abuse-problem/#4528240f1a14

[iii] https://kernelmag.dailydot.com/features/report/6520/the-internets-teenage-sexting-ecosystem/

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