The new FaceApp application is trending on social media sites with the free launch of the “gender swap” filter. As a result, the unique hashtag “#faceappchallenge” is getting viral on Facebook and Instagram. With this, the security issues and risk concerns of the facial recognition application and sharing information for privacy reasons have surfaced.

The Senior Security Analyst at Kaspersky, Fabio Assolini, assures users that the application does not contain any malicious elements. As facial recognition technology is used mainly for password authentication, the user must be conscientious while sharing images with the third parties.

“We have to treat these new forms of authentication as passwords, as any widely available facial recognition system can end up being used for both good and bad,” said Assolini.

Artificial intelligence

Assolini is of the view that companies owning such apps could potentially facilitate or sell such images to entities using artificial intelligence (AI) to modify facial recognition.

“In addition, it must be taken into account that this data is stored on third-party servers and that it can also be stolen by cybercriminals and used to impersonate identities,” he said.

“Being isolated and stuck at home during the pandemic has prompted people to spend more time on social media than ever before,” said Yeo Siang Tiong, GM for Southeast Asia at Kaspersky. “Keeping themselves updated with news and connecting with friends and families are among the top reasons. But people have also been turning to social media to deal with stress and anxiety. Sharing photos and videos using apps that add filters either by swapping genders and looking older are now back. Again, we say there’s no harm in using these apps. But we urge social media users to pay strict attention to how much of their private information will be used and shared by such apps to avoid any risk,” he added.

Assolini is creating awareness among users by alerting them to download the application only from trusted sites or official stores before taking up the latest FaceApp challenge. He also advised users to read through the privacy terms of the app to get the complete knowledge of what rights and types of access are being requested.

According to Kaspersky, the following precautions need to be taken while downloading applications:

  • Ensure the app is reliable and downloaded from official websites
  • Understand what information is requested and read privacy terms
  • Use facial recognition only as a password and not everywhere
  • Always check about the permissions required, e.g., while logging in for a particular existing social media account