Is New Profile Pic app a scam? Why have there been security warnings about the viral app’s alleged Russian links?

You may have noticed cartoons of your friends or followers appearing on your social media fed in the last few weeks.

Tens of thousands of people have downloaded NewProfilePic, a application that allows you to upload a photo, choose a style and, in seconds, have a realistic sketch that resembles the work of an artist.

But now concerns have been raised about the alleged use of the app. russian linksand whether users should think twice before handing over high-quality images of themselves to their owners.

This is what you need to know.

What is NewProfilePic?

NewProfilePic, launched by the company PHO.TO, is an image editing application for mobile phones that can be downloaded from the app store either google play.

It has climbed the charts on both stores, with hundreds of thousands of downloads this month.

Users submit high-quality photos of their faces in exchange for avatars, produced by AI technology, that appear hand-drawn.

Social media users have been sharing these images online, with many adopting them as profile photos.

The app’s website says: “The world around us is fast-paced and constantly evolving. In this ever-changing world, why stick to a profile picture on your social networks? Make it different, always new and… made by AI!

“The NewProfilePic app allows you to change the style of your user picture as many times as you want.

“Dare to be different, with a profile picture that reflects your current state of mind or state of mind. Impress your friends on social media and keep them interested in what comes next!”

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What concerns have been raised?

As is common with smartphone apps, downloading NewProfilePic allows you to collect personal information.

The company’s data policy states that “we collect certain personal information that you voluntarily provide to us.”

It adds: “We collect your name, email address, username, social media information, and other information you provide when you sign up.”

If users consent, they can share their location, details about their device and provide access to other photos on their social networks.

Attention has been drawn to the app’s owner, Linerock Investments, which is registered in Moscow, according to the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists’ Offshore Leaks database.

Cyber ​​security adviser Jake Moore told MailOnline: “This app is likely to be a way to capture people’s faces in high resolution.

“I would question any app that wants this amount of data, especially one that is largely unknown and based in another country.”

What does the company say?

said a company spokesman i that PHO.TO has development and customer support offices in Russia, Ukraine, and Belarus, but management is located outside of those countries.

All user photos are hosted and processed on Amazon AWS and Microsoft Azure servers, they said, which are located outside of Russia.

They added: “The address on the Moscow River is the address of the lawyers who registered the company. We have never had an office there.

“It is true that the domain was registered to the Moscow address. It is the old Moscow address of the company’s founder.

“He does not live in the Russian Federation at the moment. For now the address has been changed to avoid confusion.

“We understand that due to current events in Ukraine, any connection to Russia could raise suspicions. That’s why we want to share the position on this issue on our founder’s Instagram.”

Four days before Russia launched its invasion of Ukraine, PHO.TO founder Victor Sazhin wrote on Instagram: “War between Russia and Ukraine has always been unthinkable. And it should be again.

“Our team has development offices in Moscow and kyiv, Novosibirsk and Odessa.

“Our iOS team is mostly Russian. Our Android team, mostly Ukrainian.

“Personally I was born in the USSR in Moscow and moved to Krivyi Rih when I was two months old. Quite literally, my homeland is Russia and my homeland is Ukraine.

“Moscow being my home and Kryvyi Rih being a beloved city of my childhood, I would never have imagined discussing a matter of war between our nations.”

The spokesman added: “We did not have or plan to have any affiliation with any government organization of any country.”

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