FaceApp comes with security concerns

National

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — Everyone’s seen friends posting pictures on social media looking at least 20 years older. The viral app FaceApp gives people the power to change images of themselves by altering their looks, their hair and their age.

You saw celebrities like Carrie Underwood, Kevin Hart and Dwayne Wade posting altered photos of themselves. Even members of our own newsroom shared the changes — including yours truly.

But don’t be so quick to download the app, because you could be giving up some of your personal data.

“Be careful,” Rodney Gullatte, who specializes in cybersecurity at Firma IT Solutions in Colorado Springs, said. “Anything you download on your phone comes with risks.”

People have been giving FaceApp the power to use their pictures – and names – for any purpose it wishes, for as long as it desires.

“It’s a common habit for people to download apps without reading the fine print of the terms and conditions,” Gullatte said. “We download them to the phone, and who knows what they’re going to do with that information.”

The eerie photo filter uses artificial intelligence to digitally age your face and other features. Now it has gone viral, with millions on social media sharing it. The user’s data could be vulnerable, and others are concerned if their “friends” on Facebook and other contacts are at risk.

“You have signed off on access to at least your photos,” Gullatte said. “And, even after you delete the app, the information you allowed it to access can still be up in the cloud.”

What’s more concerning is the company was created in 2017 by developers at Wireless Lab in St. Petersburg, Russia. It claims in a statement that it will not transfer the information to Russia. It also states it will not “sell or share any user data with any third parties.”

Despite these assurances, the Democratic National Committee is warning its members not to use the app. The DNC was hacked by Russian operatives during the 2016 election. It fears the Russian connection carries too many risks to warrant using the app and advises against it.

Copyright 2019 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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