Photo editing app making national headlines over security questions

MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) -- A photo editing app called FaceApp has been raising questions nationally about cyber security and user photo use.

FaceApp allows users to take a photo on the app, or upload a photo to it, and apply filters and features to change their appearance. One filter that has been popular on social media is the filter allowing users to age themselves.

"I've just seen a lot of it recently in the last couple weeks on social media," said UW-Madison student Lucas Ratanawong.

"They'll turn their face into someone that's really old, and it's very hyper realistic actually," he said.

However, some security experts say the app comes with potential risks.

"What you do today can come back and haunt you in unforeseen ways in the future," said Director of Information Security GRC at UW System, Nicholas Davis.

Davis said that once you put your photo on the app, it can be difficult to get it back.

"The privacy policy that people agree to is very very loose, it allows this company to do whatever they want with that photo," Davis said.

Davis said that with the use of facial recognition technology on the rise, as seen as an unlocking device in some smart phones, uploading photos of your face to an app can be risky. He says where the app comes from is also a consideration.

"The concerns about this are that the company that has built this application is based in Russia," he said. "And Russia has a reputation for cyber security issues, and cyber crime issues."

In a statement, the company behind the app says, "user data is not transferred to Russia." The statement also says that the app does not "sell or share any user data with any third parties."

Davis said if users want to see what they look like when they get older, they can let time play its part.

"They will be old soon enough, and there's no need to look in the future and take that kind of risk," he said.