|19 July, 2019

Saudis warned against using FaceApp

Cybersecurity concerns over how the photos could be misused by the app raised concerns among many users

Image used for illustrative purpose.

Image used for illustrative purpose.

Getty Images/ Yuichiro Chino

RIYADH: The National Cybersecurity Authority (NCA) has warned people against using the viral face-transforming mobile application FaceApp, citing the software’s use of personal information.

The app allows users to upload photos of their faces and have them edited to look older, a popular trick that filled the social media feeds of millions of users spread over more than 100 countries.

Cybersecurity concerns over how the photos could be misused by the app raised concerns among many users, and the NCA has now warned against using it, stressing not to grant it access to personal images.

Muhammad Khurram Khan, a professor of cybersecurity at King Saud University said: “These days many people seem obsessed with some smartphone apps, which are used for fun or entertainment without any fear or knowing that it could be dangerous to their privacy and could be used for unknown malicious purposes.

“FaceApp, a face-aging app, and many other similar apps are very hot and greatly used by users worldwide without paying attention to the app’s terms of service and their own rights.

BACKGROUND

• The app, a more than 2-year-old program created by a Russian-based developer, has a host of image altering features such as adding smiles or changing a person’s gender.

• Cybersecurity concerns over how the photos cold be misused by the app raised concerns among many users, and the NCA has now warned against using it, stressing, not to grant it access to personal images.

“The privacy policies of FaceApp are not clear how it protects users data, but the company claims that any data collected can’t reasonably be used to identify any particular individual user,” he said. “However, it does explicitly say that it shares information with ‘third-party advertising partners’. It’s not just about one photo a user uploads for fun, but FaceApp terms of service seem to allow users to give access to all stored photos, and nobody knows when and with whom this data could be shared or used.”

In the past apps like Candy Crush and Angry Birds were used to gather personal data, including contact lists, emails and other sensitive information from the smartphones.

“These data-leaking apps harbor the greatest security and privacy perils for users who download them and give access and control to personal data, photos, microphones and cameras, which could be used to eavesdrop or monitor their activities,” Khan added.

As reported by Forbes, over 100 million people have downloaded FaceApp from Google Play, and the app is also currently the No. 1 free, and No. 2 grossing, app on the Apple App Store.

The app, a more than 2-year-old program created by a Russian-based developer, has a host of image-altering features such as adding smiles or changing a person’s gender.

Users joining challenges on the app use it to make themselves appear elderly, giving fans a preview of what their favorite athletes or celebrities would look like once they become senior citizens.

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