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FaceApp – a big data security threat or just smoke?

on Monday, 22 July 2019. Posted in Cyber

FaceApp has officially gone viral and while many people are enjoying seeing how they would look when they are older, many security researchers are raising their concerns over the app.

The capability on which FaceApp relies is neural network technology, or deep learning. The concept being that the neural networks are modelled after the human brain; many interconnected nodes talking to one another allowing for higher level cognition and decision making. Within the technology industry this is an element of machine learning (ML).

ML requires large amounts of data, which needs to be acquired from somewhere and the technology is still in its early stages, requiring more input to refine and improve it. Applications such as FaceApp are an opportunity to gather this data over large geographical areas, providing a large input in to the data for ML capabilities.

This data then needs to be stored, for example in a data lake or cloud-based storage solution. One of the biggest issues surrounding big data today is who retains the rights and ownership of the data when it is stored and also the protection of sensitive and personal information included in the metadata.

These are big concerns currently being raised in the technology industry and the storage of this type of data. People no longer read the T&Cs so do not understand what they are agreeing to, where their data is going and what it is being used for.

Whilst similar apps and technology could be distributed from anywhere in the world the intent does not always have to be malicious. However it certainly raises the issue around how people view their data and what they are willing to share with new and unknown apps in future.

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