Facebook users are being warned against a New Profile Pic app which some experts believe is sending data to Russia.
The app uses facial-recognition technology, allowing users to modify the picture they upload and create a new image they can share on social media.
Hundreds of thousands of people have been updating their profile pictures via the new app in the latest online trend, but many are unaware that their information, including photographs, is being sent to a company registered in Moscow.
What is the New Profile Pic app?
The New Profile Pic app (also known as NewProfilePic Picture Editor) uses artificial intelligence to turn profile pictures into atwork, finding key points on an image of your face and creating a new version.
The app, which already boasts tens of thousands of users, can be downloaded to mobile devices and allows the sending of data, including your location and access to other social media images on your feeds.
Some experts believe the app is sending people’s photographs and data straight to the Kremlin as Linerock Investments, the firm behind it, is based next to the Russian Ministry of Defence three miles outside Red square, according to the Mail Online.
The company’s data policy says: “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."
The app is number one in photos on the Apple app store and has been rated 25,000 times on Google Play.
Is the New Profile Pic app a scam?
In the United States’ Apple App Store, the app is called NewProfilePic Picture Editor and was developed by Informe Laboratories, Inc.
However, it seems that the app’s website is registered to Linerock Investments, based next to the Russian Ministry of Defence, raising concern among cybersecurity experts.
While it’s unclear if the app and website are even affiliated, Jake Moore, Global Cybersecurity Advisor, ESET Internet Security told the Mail Online that users need to be cautious when uploading photographs or personal data to a new website.
Users on Twitter are sharing experts’ fears of a Russian-based scam, with one person calling the New Profile Pic app a "phishing scam".
The user said: "If you have it on your phone, delete it, if you gave it full permissions change your passwords warn your bank, there has been a huge uptick of bank accounts being drained and people being shut out of their accounts.
A second user said: "NewProfilePic app is Russian owned and likely to contain ransomware."
Meanwhile, the Cyber HelpLine, which describes itself as "expert advice for victims of cybercrime and online security issues in the UK" shared that the website’s overall trust score is just 14%.
What has been said about the app’s links to Russia?
Jake Moore, Global Cybersecurity Advisor, ESET Internet Security told the Mail Online that he would “question any app wanting this amount of data, especially one which is largely unheard of and based in another country."
He added: “This app is likely a way of capturing people’s faces in high resolution.”
They said images are sent to Amazon servers to apply the effects, are not visible to anybody and are deleted after two weeks.
How to protect yourself
Although it is not certain whether or not the New Profile PIc is a scam, you should always be careful with new apps.
Also make sure to keep your device secure with a strong password, biometric features or two-factor authentication.