These Face Changing Apps might be stealing your identity

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In today’s digital age, identity theft is not only limited to physical connections. Earlier hackers tried to steal information like bank accounts, credit card pins and email address passwords, etc. They used a technique called phishing in which they made a copy of important webpages like bank portals and email providers to scam people. Now with the advancement in tech, the hackers are also getting smarter.

While that threat still stands, we have newer problems, today most of our phones, laptops, offices, and even homes rely on biometrics. Biometrics means the human voice, fingerprints, and the face. These things unlock our phones, authorize transactions, and authenticate many of our daily tasks.  We use biometrics because they are specific to every one of us, and they can not be cloned. At least that is what we believed in.

Fingerprints are more physical and are harder to clone, but voice and face can easily be cloned by using AI. This means that with machines powerful enough to do some data processing, hackers can now even steal your identity. We recently showed the possibilities of a new AI algorithm, which included voice cloning, you can check it out here.

Now to protect ourselves from these threats, we must first understand how AI cloning works.  Any AI model that needs to clone a face or a voice has to clone some sort of data pattern. Therefore we need to train these models over a specific set of data or samples. This is where the hackers need your photos or voice.  Once trained, the model can change the face or voice in almost any video.

The Face Changing Apps :

From the above discussion, you might be wondering how hackers will get your photos to train models. Well, let’s talk about that now. We all have our social media profiles configured to show pictures and videos only to our friends, which we add depending on the people we know. You may think that’s secure, but applications can quickly get your data.

Now and then, we see a trend on social media where people change their faces to a different gender or see what they look like older using apps on Facebook of smartphone stores. Most of the time, if the app is on Facebook, it gives you a list of what the app will have access to if you agree to use it. A few years back, agreeing to use your profile picture would’ve been ok, but now it is not.

Similarly, many smartphone applications which perform similar tasks and can easily store your face. While Google and Apple have strict policies for deceiving apps, and most of the time, applications work as advertised, or they are deleted. Users can never know in this case when they are walking in a trap.

Voice Assistants and Voice Changers:

Just like your face, your voice can also be stolen. We use our view every day to control cars, homes, and phones. Voice assistants are an essential part of daily lifestyle today, but users must take caution when using them. Apple admitted to storing user voices addressing Siri and using them, which they fixed later on. Therefore, you must make sure that your voice assistant is encrypted and does not store any data.

Similarly, some applications change your voice and make it funny. They also store your voice and then process it. There is nothing stopping hackers to pose as a voice assistant or voice changing app and record your voice and even get hold of sensitive data or discussions.

Consequently, Users need to take caution before using any application that uses voice or facial recording. An easy way to be safe from fake apps is to check for user reviews and ratings before downloading. You can easily spot a bad review talking about an issue. Most importantly, do not grant camera and mic permissions to an app that doesn’t need them.

Take a look at this video from Lins Tech Tips at youtube for more details on how AI cloning works.


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