NewProfilePic -- From Russia with security risks [Updated]
The NewProfilePic app has been taking Facebook by storm in recent days, allowing users to upload a photograph and have it turned into a piece of digital artwork.
However, it's sparked concern in the cybersecurity community because it collects data and sends it to Russia. Linerock Investments, the company behind the app, is based in Moscow alongside Russia's defense ministry.
Jake Moore, global cybersecurity advisor at ESET told MailOnline, "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 and based in another country."
Installing the app means users agree to share their location, details about the device they are using as well as other photographs on their social media feeds. Of particular concern as we move towards a more biometric approach to securing systems is that it’s capturing high-resolution facial images.
This isn't the first time we've seen something similar. Back in 2017 FaceApp, also released by a Russian company, used AI to age photographs and also was found to be sending large amounts of data to Russia.
NewProfilePic contacted BetaNews to point out that the company has development offices in Russia, Ukraine, and Belarus and that all user photos are hosted and processed on the Amazon AWS and Microsoft Azure servers, which are located outside the Russian Federation.
The address on Moscow River is the address of lawyers who registered the company and it has never had an office there. A spokesperson for the company says, "It is the truth that the domain was registered to the Moscow address. It is the former Moscow address of the founder of the company. He does not live in the Russian Federation now. Currently the address was changed in order to avoid any confusion."
The company's founder Victor Sazhin posted an update on his Instagram page. https://www.instagram.com/p/CaMwsXeI0Q-/