Unless you’ve been living under a rock for last few months, then you’ve probably come across the FaceApp in some shape or form. One of its most popular applications is its ability to show what you’ll look like when you’re older and have aged a little bit.
According to the CEO of FaceApp, this application doesn’t have any malicious features. And it definitely doesn’t pose a threat to users. This statement came after concerns were raised about the app’s data safety and privacy policies.
However, we decided to get the receipts ourselves and figure out how true these claims are. After all, major tech companies have been caught slipping when it comes to data privacy protection. The same can be said for FaceApp.
So, we decided to do some digging by installing FaceApp on two different smartphones. One model operates on the Apple iOS while the other runs on Google’s Android OS.
On both devices, we ran tests to run the app with and without permission to access photos.
Next, we uploaded some photos onto FaceApp. We found that it requires the same amount of time to do a data transfer.
Attention: Read before you continue
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No Technical Proof Yet
In theory, FaceApp can transfer photo data slowly in order to deliberately hide the activity. That’s why we specifically ran tests to find out what happens when the app runs in the background. What we found was that outbound traffic remains largely negligible while the app is running in the background. This was with the iPhone and its speed was 5MB in 10 minutes.
We checked the phone an hour later and found that the speed had kicked up to 43MB of data. This speed is okay if the app is simply running in the background and not processing any immediate image data. It’s as if the app is just routinely refreshing itself and that’s all.
When we shared our research data with two independent security firms, they confirmed that their findings were the same. This came after threats about FaceApp data leaks went viral, with multiple sources claiming that FaceApp was actually uploading more than what their customers were sharing.
Nevertheless, it’s always a good idea to stay vigilant whenever you use a data sharing app, no matter what type of data that is. Even if the rumor turned out to be false, it’s still good that it came out because it got people talking about how to hold the apps we use accountable.
One of the reasons why the FaceApp data-leaking scandal was so huge is because this is a Russian app. However, it’s important to practice the principle of considering people innocent until proven guilty, especially if there’s no real proof behind the rumor.
Diving into FaceApp’s Data Storage Processes
According to FaceApp, the photos uploaded by users are kept in a Google and Amazon-operated server and its research and development team doesn’t receive any data from said servers. During our research, we were able to see a few servers and sure enough, they were from Google and Amazon, located in Mountain View, California; Ohio; Portland, Oregon, and Singapore.
Of course, FaceApp could always use cover methods to store some of its data in servers located in Russia. But according to them, that’s not what’s happening.
How to Stay Safe
The best way to protect yourself without any shadow of doubt is to always use a VPN. We recommend IPVanish when using the FaceApp and any other app for that matter. This’ll protect you from all kinds of data theft and third-party interference while keeping your location, identity, and data fully private.
On a lighter note, the FaceApp subdomain creator seems to be a huge Game of Thrones fan. This is because the names the company’s subdomains after popular characters like Jaime, Bran, Arya and Tyrian to name but a few.
Now, it’s important to end by saying that FaceApp data leaks could be a reality tomorrow. We don’t know. They might decide that it’s a good idea to snoop on user data. But for now, they only serve as a cautionary tale. Remember to always be mindful of the permissions you give to the apps you use and consider the possible implications of sharing your data.
For now, the evidence suggests that FaceApp isn’t sharing anything that users aren’t explicitly putting on the platform themselves.
What was your reaction to the FaceApp data leak scandal? Let us know in the comments below!