New Profile Image App Should Raise Privacy Concerns

A new phone app promising your free digital avatar probably is taking more from you than facial recognition. There are growing concerns in the cyber security community that Russia is behind this new technology and is stealing personal information from what could at up to millions. 

The new app is very popular online, it offers the user the opportunity to turn a photograph into a beautiful, cartoon-like image of themselves. 

Thousands upon thousands of people have already used the app and uploaded their photos to the servers of the New Profile Pic app. 

Jake Moore of Global Cybersecurity Advisor, ESET Internet Security told the media that people should be very careful when they upload a photograph or other personal information to a brand-new website. 

“This app is likely a way of capturing people’s faces in high resolution and I would question any app wanting this amount of data, especially one which is largely unheard of,” Moore said.

The company that says they are behind the app denies that they are doing anything wrong with the information that they have. It claims to be based in the British Virgin Islands but they have development and customer support offices in Russia, Ukraine, and Belarus. 

The company maintained that it was only registered in Moscow because that was the former home of the founder of the company who left Russia. 

The company in question is Linerock Investments Ltd, which according to the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists Offshore Leaks database, is registered in Moscow.

New App Requires Giving Access to All Photographs

The new app uses this promotional information: “The world around us is fast-paced and always evolving. In this ever changing world, why stick to one profile pic on your social media? Let it be different, always new and… made by AI!”

The app allows the user to change her style as often as you like and challenges the user to “dare to be different” with a profile pic that reflects the current mood or state of mind of the user. 

When you agree to download the app, it means that you are willing to share your location and details about the device you are using. It also means that the company has access to other photographs on your social media feeds. 

The company doesn’t even hide this truth, “we collect certain personal information that you voluntarily provide to us. We collect your name, email address, user name, social network information and other information you provide when you register.”

But the company also collects data on the user from other companies and puts that in their dossier. And they collect the IP address, browser type, and settings from a computer or the device data from a mobile phone handset.

They use the latest AI technology and they have continually updated the collection of styles to increase interaction from users. 

The app is number one in the photo and video chard of Apple’s App Store. And more than 25,000 users have rated it in the Google Play Store. 

Moore warned: “Although most people will not question the possibilities of anything wrong occurring from simply uploading a photo, the amount of data taken under the radar can often be far more than the user intended on sharing which can cause security and privacy problems.”

He went on to say that users should err on the side of caution when giving over sensitive information because once it is gone, it is virtually impossible to get back.

One spokesperson for the company said that they “understand” with the current events taking place in Ukraine the company could “raise suspicions.”

Yes…there should be a concern.