Tampa cybersecurity company warns FaceApp may compromise users privacy

8 On Your Side

TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA)- If you’ve been on social media in the past few months, then you’ve seen the latest craze. It’s a geriatric look into the aging process, via selfies that feature wrinkles, gray hair, sagging skin and age spots, all made possible by Faceapp.

Adam Sheffield, with the Undercroft, a cybersecurity guild and development center in Ybor City, says that a seemingly simple picture could be putting your security at risk. He warns that Faceapp, a Russian based company has access to all your photos and other potentially private information.

“What is the personal threshold or risk you are willing to take with your information, in return for entertainment? If you are using a free service or free product or application, you or the product and whatever information is being collected from that, is how that organization is monetizing,” said Sheffield. 

Some lawmakers fear the information collected by Faceapp could be a ploy to hack into our digital world.

Chris Machowski also with the Undercroft says that the lawmakers’ scenario isn’t likely but recommends users read the terms and conditions of every app they download.  

“Faceapp itself, they don’t store people’s photos for more than 48 hours,” said Machowski.

But still, both Sheffield and Machowski urge users to proceed with caution.

In the meantime, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer is calling on the FBI and the Federal Trade Commission to conduct a national security and privacy investigation into the app. 

Faceapp isn’t the first artificial intelligence that has raised a concern. We have seen and heard fake videos or audio recordings of politicians and celebrities, that look and sound just like the actual person. They are called Deepfakes and they are becoming more and more realistic.

This latest technology is leaving many to wonder if their innocent online photos could ever be used for something sinister.

“Now, they are being able to get to do it in real-time. So, if there is a real-time photo of you, they can impose something on your face and make you say whatever they want you to say, so it’s getting pretty crazy,” said Machowski.

The Undercroft offers events and programs on how to better understand technology, data and cybersecurity.

For more information on the Undercroft, visit their website at https://www.theundercroft.net/

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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