Is 'New Profile Pic' App a Russian Malware Scam? (2023)

In May 2022, a new profile pic app, officially named “NewProfilePic Picture Editor” in the Apple Store and “NewProfilePic: Profile Picture” in the Google Play store, shot to the top of mobile charts with hundreds of thousands of downloads. As people posted photos from this new app, a piece of mobile software that uses artificial intelligence to create profile pics that look as if they had been painted, messages started circulating on social media claiming that this app was some sort of Russian malware scam.

Some social media users claimed the app was stealing data in a criminal fashion. Others claimed it was based in Russia and connected to the Kremlin. Another rumor accused the app of being malware and taking money out of people’s accounts. We looked into each of these claims and found that they were largely without merit or unsubstantiated. While this app does collect some user data, its privacy policy isn’t out of the ordinary.

Is the New Profile Pic App Stealing Data?

People are often surprised to learn just how much personal data mobile apps are allowed to access. When claims started circulating that the New Profile Pic app was some sort of scam, many people shared screenshots of the app’s privacy policy.

One person shared a screenshot of the requested app permissions and wrote: “DO NOT download the NEW PROFILE PIC.COM APP it takes all your information and sends it to Moscow!!!!!!!”

The permissions listed in the above-displayed image aren’t out of the ordinary, in terms of what many popular mobile apps do. When we compared the contents of this screenshot to that of other top apps, such as TikTok, WhatsApp, and Instagram, we found that requesting users’ permission to “receive data from internet” and “have full network access” isn’t unusual. People should certainly be aware that they are granting this amount of access to companies when they download their apps. That said, New Profile Pic’s permissions aren’t abnormal.

(Video) Warnings issued over ‘New Profile Pic’ app that may send your personal information to Russia

Is New Profile Pic app Based in Russia?

New Profile Pic was created by a mobile development group called Informe Laboratories, Inc., and copyrighted by Linerock Investments LTD, according to the listings in Google’s and Apple’s app stores. These companies are also behind the popular apps “Photo Lab Picture Editor & Art” and “ToonMe – cartoons from photos,” two apps that collectively have millions of reviews, the vast majority of which are five stars.

On both Google’s and Apple’s app store, the developer’s location is listed as being Tortola in the British Virgin Islands.

The claim that this app was connected to Russia or the Kremlin was based on screenshots that supposedly showed how the website newprofilepic.com had been registered in Moscow.

When we looked up this domain on May 11, our results showed that this website was registered in Florida. We reached out to Linerock Investments for more information, and a spokesperson told us that, previously, the domain was indeed registered in Moscow because the company’s founder had lived there. However, the spokesperson said that that person had relocated, and so the company changed the address of the domain registration “to avoid any confusion.”

The spokesperson said via email:

It is true that the domain was registered to the Moscow address. It is the former Moscow address of the founder of the company. He does not live in the Russian Federation at the moment. By now the address has been changed in order to avoid any confusion.

(Video) Is the New Profile Pic App safe or scam? Don't use it for Facebook/Instagram till you see reviews!

This app comes from a company in the British Virgin Islands that uses an international team of developers, some of whom reside in Russia. The spokesperson said:

We are a BVI company. Our app is being developed by an international team with development offices in Russia, Ukraine and Belarus.

The Daily Mail reported that this app was developed by a company “overlooking the Moscow River three miles from Red Square,” insinuating a connection between this app and the Kremlin. When we asked the Linerock about this assertion raised by The Daily Mail, the spokesperson told us that the media outlet was referring to an address of lawyers who had registered the company in Moscow, not of the company itself. The spokesperson said:

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

A blog post on Linerock’s website pho.to detailed a longer response to the rumors. The company explained that they use Amazon AWS and Microsoft Azure, two servers located in the U.S., and that no user images or data are sent to Moscow:

However, there’s a flip side to the app’s popularity. The UK’s Daily Mail posted an article today alleging that NewProfilePic is likely to ‘hoover up your data and send it to Moscow’ – all because the app ‘has been developed by a tech company based in Moscow’. 🙈

Again, we can’t help remembering the lookalike ‘Bangladesh story’. All we can do is explain patiently that all our apps (including NewProfilePic) are NOT a threat. We are a BVI company with development offices in Russia, Ukraine, and Belarus. Nevertheless, your photos (or any other data) are NOT sent to Moscow. All our apps are server-based and user images are uploaded to Amazon AWS / Microsoft Azure servers located in the US. This is necessary in order to apply all those fancy effects driven by AI technologies.

Is This App Stealing Money?

Another popular social media rumor claimed that people had money taken out of their bank accounts shortly after downloading this app. This is one example:

(Video) WARNING NEW PROFILE PIC APP - IS IT A HUGE ONLINE SECURITY RISK?

We have not been able to confirm or disprove that this actually happened. Furthermore, many details surrounding such claims are unknown. (Was this charge for a subscription? Was the money refunded? Did the user provide credit card information to the app?)

We reached out to Google, Apple, and the user who posted the above-displayed message, and we will update this article if more information becomes available. A spokesperson for the app told us that while the screenshots showing charges may be real, they didn’t come from the New Profile Pic App as the app, as of this writing, is “absolutely free and it does not contain in-app purchases so it does not require any payment information of the users.”

Since publication of this article the app has added in-app purchases.

The spokesperson said the app stores are crowded with similarly named apps, some of which feature subscriptions or in-app purchases. It’s possible, the spokesperson suggested, that users may have accidentally used one of these look-a-like apps, and that that service might have charged them. The spokesperson told Snopes:

Since all the pictures shared on the social networks bear our #NewProfilePic logo, people use app store search to find the app. If you will check the search results you will see other apps with pretty similar titles. And some of them have in-app purchases. It is misleading and some users download several apps to get the effect and in some they may activate the trial via the paywall. They simply remove the app afterwards (which does not stop the subscription) and get charged after the trial is over. So currently the charges are not triggered by our apps, but by the competitors.

Is New Profile Pic App Safe To Use?

In sum, the claim that this app is unusually invasive is untrue. Its requested app permissions are similar to other mainstream apps. The claim that this app is stealing data for the Kremlin is also unsupported by evidence. This app was developed by a company in the British Virgin Islands that uses a team of international developers, some of whom live in Russia. Lastly, the claim that users of this app had money taken out of their bank accounts is, so far, unsubstantiated.

While this app requests permission to access certain data on your phone, these requests aren’t unusual. You can read more about the company’s privacy policy on its website.

(Video) Is profile pic app safe

It is also worth reiterating that this app didn’t come from a new company, and New Profile Pic isn’t their first app. ToonMe and PhotoLab, two of the developer’s other apps, have more than 150 million installs on Google Play. Both of those apps have been around for years, and we are unaware of any reports that they have been used to steal money from people’s bank accounts, or to give users’ data to the Kremlin.

A spokesperson for the app told us: “The NewProfilePic app does not store users’ accounts or any personal data. …This app is safe for people to use it.”

While there isn’t anything unusual about this app, Joseph Steinberg, a cyber security expert, said that people still needed to be cautious about what apps they download to their phones, especially when those apps come from different countries.

Steinberg told WFMY News 2:

“All of a sudden when the company is based in Moscow, it’s oh my God it is Moscow and the company is collecting my data. The real problem is they’re not asking about the other 30 apps on their phone that are doing the same thing […] The reality is, if you look at the fine print of this app, it’s collecting less data than many other apps. I think Facebook has a lot more info than TikTok does. But the reality is, if this app or TikTok or any other app from a foreign country, you don’t know how they’re going to share the data.”

FAQs

Is new profile picture app safe? ›

No, the New Profile Pic app is not a scam, and the rumors spreading against it on social media platforms are baseless. It is a legit photo editing app that can turn your profile picture into a painting. You can find many people on Twitter posting about the app as a scam or fake.

Is New Profile Pic a hack? ›

Experts warn internet users not to download latest online craze New Profile Pic that hoovers up your details." It's all scary stuff on the surface, but if you're already using apps like TikTok and Facebook, New Profile Pic isn't any more dangerous.

What is the New Profile Pic app? ›

NewProfilePic is an app you can get for iOS or Android. It does pretty much what it says -- makes your profile image look like a painting, using artificial intelligence. People on various social platforms are having fun tinkering not only with their own photos, but images of famous people and pets.

Is New Profile Pic safe on Facebook? ›

Ritter said there's no evidence of anything malicious, but all smartphone apps, including New Profile Pic, do collect information on users. “It is scraping the data from your Facebook account,” Ritter told WBBH.

How much does the new profile pic app cost? ›

You can use New Profile Pic for free. Whether you have an Android or iOS device, New Profile Pic lets you get your own cartoon profile pictures without spending a dime.

What is the safest photo hiding app? ›

Best Photos and Video Hiding Apps for Android (2022)
  • Google Photos (Locked Folder)
  • KeepSafe Photo Vault.
  • 1Gallery.
  • LockMyPix Photo Vault.
  • Calculator by FishingNet.
  • Hide Pictures & Videos – Vaulty.
  • Hide Something.
  • Google Files (Safe Folder)
15 Sept 2022

Can you be hacked through a picture? ›

According to Business Insider, hackers can even copy fingerprints from photos and use them to steal your identity. Peace-sign selfies and high-resolution pictures are the most vulnerable. Believe it or not, everything can be hacked.

Can someone steal your identity with your picture? ›

Digital Forensics expert Ondrej Krehel says your innocent digit display can be cropped, edited, printed, and lifted into a clear fingerprint - an exact replica of your unique ID. "You don't realize your fingers are exposed," said author and founder of CyberScout, Adam Levin.

Is profile pic a Russian app? ›

The Daily Mail's post was flagged as part of Facebook's efforts to combat false news and misinformation on its news feed. According to Snopes, the site and app were initially registered in Russia, because its founder is Russian.

What's the photo app everyone is using on Facebook? ›

FaceApp - Home | Facebook.

What is the new profile picture on Facebook? ›

What is the 'New Profile Pic' app? The 'New Profile Pic' app has gone viral in May 2022. It is a photo-editing application that changes your picture to make it look like a painting. It can be accessed via its website online or downloaded through iOS and Android app stores.

Why you should update your profile picture? ›

* Whenever there's a relevant change to your style or appearance, for example, a new haircut, or hair color, weight loss or gain, or any cosmetic enhancements.

Who owns the New Profile Pic app? ›

Who owns the app, and how does it work? NewProfilePic was created by a mobile development group called Informe Laboratories Inc., and copyrighted by Linerock Investments Ltd., said Kristina Lunina, a Linerock Investments spokesperson. The app is available on Google Play and the Apple App Store.

Why are people changing their Facebook profile pictures? ›

Knight Foundation finds that 18% of U.S. social media users say they have changed their profile pictures to draw attention to an issue or event. Of those who changed their pictures, 42% did so because of the attacks in Paris, many of them applying a filter displaying the colors of the French flag.

What should you not put on Facebook? ›

10 Things You Should Never Post on Facebook
  1. Embarrassing pictures of other people. ...
  2. Your birth year. ...
  3. Strong political or religious opinions. ...
  4. Curse words. ...
  5. Other people's big news. ...
  6. Details of your vacation. ...
  7. Posts intended to make others envious. ...
  8. Drinking photos.
16 Mar 2021

Is new profile app free? ›

Yes. It is free to use New Profile Pic app. At the moment, there appear to be no paywalled features or subscription tiers. There are ads, however.

How often should you update your profile picture? ›

The beginning of a new year is the best time to change your profile picture to start every year fresh and ride the “new year, new you” train, but if you want to do it more often, you can change your profile pic every season. Four times a year should be more than plenty to show people you are active on social media.

How do I get the new profile app? ›

Open the App Store on your iPhone (or Play Store on Android), search for 'New Profile Pic,' and download the app titled 'NewProfilePic Picture Editor. ' Once the app is downloaded, open it and tap the green 'Choose Photo' button at the bottom of the screen.

Where should I hide my photos? ›

For most stock versions of the Android operating system, these steps should work:
  1. Open the Google Photos app.
  2. Select the images that you wish to hide.
  3. Tap the three-dot icon in the top right-hand corner.
  4. Tap Move to Archive in the drop-down menu.

Can photo vault see your pictures? ›

Can photo vault see your pictures? Private Photo Vault ® keeps your privacy as our top priority. We do not store photos anywhere besides your device. We cannot see, share, or sell your private photos.

Can a hacker watch you through your camera? ›

It's called camfecting – remotely accessing a camera with the help of malware. Done so without your knowledge and permission, of course. This type of hacking is carried out via malware called a remote access trojan (RAT).

Can someone hack your phone and see you through the camera? ›

YES, your phone camera can be easily hacked. Hackers can use your smartphone's camera to hack your device and spy on you and get access to your phone without your knowledge!

Can hackers see your mobile screen? ›

“Therefore, if someone hacks your phone, they would have access to the following information: email addresses and phone numbers (from your contacts list), pictures, videos, documents, and text messages.” Additionally, he warns, hackers can monitor every keystroke you type on the phone's keyboard.

What can a scammer do with a selfie? ›

They could pretend to be you in order to open credit accounts – such as for credit cards – leaving you with the bill for their purchases. Identity thieves could also use your details for non-financial scams, such as pretending to be you on dating websites.

Why would a scammer ask for a selfie? ›

Why fraudsters want selfies with ID cards. As we already mentioned, some online services require a photo with ID for registration. If you send a selfie to scammers, they will be able to create accounts in your name — for example, on cryptocurrency exchanges — with a view to using them to launder money.

What can a scammer do with your name pictures and cell phone number? ›

Your phone number is an easy access point for scammers and identity thieves. Once they know your number, they can use it to send you phishing texts, trick you into installing malware and spyware, or use social engineering attacks to get you to hand over your personal identifying information (PII).

Does profile pic app send data to Moscow? ›

Linerock Investments said no user images or data are sent to Moscow.

Do apps look at your photos? ›

Yes.. they can if they need. Once you grant permission to your gallery or photo rolls they can access your whole gallery with out your knowledge. Why do some Android apps need access to my photos and other media?

What is the name of the app that takes a picture of the person trying to unlock your phone? ›

With Intruder Selfie™ you will know at any time who unlocked your device! Intruder Selfie™ takes a picture of anybody that enters an incorrect password.

Can Facebook see my gallery photos? ›

In case you're using the Facebook app on your phone or computer, it's likely that it has access to your photos. If this bothers you, you can easily change the permissions.

What does a red profile picture mean 2022? ›

Many of you have seen the newest display of solidarity going around Facebook. Turning your profile photo red, or posting a blank red photo to drive awareness of the lost work facing the event, music and film industries.

Why is everyone making their profile picture red? ›

The hashtag #‎MakeFacebookRed spread to urge Facebook users to change the profile picture into red image to raise awareness of the humanitarian catastrophe in Syria and highlight the bloodshed in Syria especially in Aleppo.

How do I change my profile picture on Facebook 2022? ›

Tap in the top right of Facebook, then tap your name. Tap your profile picture then tap Change Profile Picture. Choose a photo or add a frame. Select the photo you'd like to use, then tap Use This Photo.

Why do people remove profile pictures? ›

When you remove your DP you let the person you had an argument with that you are still angry. It is just a way to express that you are still affected by the issue. When you are angry with someone you want them to talk to you, but you don't know how to convey it.

Is profile pic necessary? ›

In a way, the picture you choose to display defines you as a person and your reputation, and when creating a profile on a professional network such as LinkedIn it becomes crucial to have the right picture to portray the right image.

What is the point of a profile picture? ›

Profile pictures are displayed as an avatar next to the account name on posts, comments and mentions (depending on the platform). Profile pictures create a visual association for social media users, making it important for businesses to select the right image.

How do I delete new profile pictures from my Iphone? ›

If the app has a configuration profile, delete it. Go to Settings > General > Profiles or Profiles & Device Management,* then tap the app's configuration profile. Then tap Delete Profile. If asked, enter your device passcode, then tap Delete.

What is the black profile picture on Facebook 2022? ›

The black profile picture is back, and it has a message. Though its specific origin is unknown, social media users have explained that the trend is a movement to show what the world might be like without women.

What does an All black profile picture mean? ›

"It's a movement to show what the world might be like without women. Your profile photo should just be a black square so that men wonder where the women are. Pass it only to women...it's for a project against domestic abuse," said the note that one person who received it posted to Twitter.

Why does a girl keep changing her profile pic? ›

She is trying to gain your attention, remind you that “she exists”. If the pictures she occasionally change into are pictures of herself, then she's just really trying to show off her good looks. There is nothing wrong in that besides, she could be doing it because she wants to and it makes her happy.

What are five things you should never post online? ›

Never post personal information, including your Social Security number (not even the last four digits), birthday, place of birth, home address, phone numbers, or personal account information.
...
Also of Interest
  • Things to never do on public wifi.
  • How to stay safe while shopping online.
  • Are you an easy mark?
15 Aug 2016

What is the safest way to be on Facebook? ›

Remember these simple rules about staying safe online:
  1. Never share your password.
  2. Think before you post.
  3. Adjust your privacy settings and review them often.
  4. Only accept friend requests from people you know personally.
  5. Report things that look suspicious.

Can people tell when you look at their Facebook? ›

Facebook users cannot track who has viewed their personal homepage. Third-party applications also cannot provide this feature.”

› technology › jan › facebo... ›

People are sharing their first ever profile picture uploaded to Facebook. Is this a good, fun trend? Or just vain? And we'd like to see readers' photogr...
Maybe you've seen some of your Facebook friends upgrading their profile pictures to look like fancy illustrations of themselves. They're likely using a ...
We're piloting new tools that give people in India more control over who can download and share their profile pictures.

Are face changing apps Safe? ›

FaceApp Pro is safe to use? Yes, FaceApp Pro is risk-free. The software has been downloaded millions of times and is used by celebrities as well as regular people.

Does FaceApp own your photos? ›

Does FaceApp keep my pictures? You retain the rights to your images but yes, they keep a copy. FaceApp uses very complicated algorithms to edit the photos, which are not installed locally when you install the app.

Does FaceApp have malware? ›

Google engineers have looked into the app's security. And independent cybersecurity researchers told The New York Times that concerns about FaceApp are overblown. “This isn't a malicious app, but it is one of many apps that raise privacy issues,” Chrysaidos said.

Does deleting FaceApp protect you? ›

If all this makes you want to rethink FaceApp, deleting the app itself isn't enough to protect your photos. You'll need to request to have your data removed from FaceApp's servers. FaceApp told TechCrunch that users can request data deletion using the “report a bug” feature within the app.

Is FaceApp Safe 2022? ›

So on the surface, it's not exactly privacy-friendly, but FaceApp doesn't appear to be a huge danger to your privacy. Even so, remember that handing your data over to any app is still a risk, and most do share it with third parties in some way.

Does the FaceApp steal your info? ›

No, FaceApp is not stealing your data — it's only making you look old.

How do I stop FaceApp from accessing my photos? ›

To be sure, you can always go into your settings and revoke the access you granted the app in the first place. Go to Settings, scroll down to FaceApp, and flip the switch to remove the access.

Can you delete photos from FaceApp? ›

You'll need to request to have your data removed from FaceApp's servers. FaceApp told TechCrunch that users can request data deletion using the “report a bug” feature within the app.

› news › local › little-evidence-support... ›

ESCAMBIA COUNTY, Fla. -- Leading security experts continue to warn Americans about a potential increase in cyberattacks from Russia. A new trending app called &...
Are you looking for a photo editor app? Recently, a photo app has been trending on social media to edit stock photos into portraits. But people should rather be...
After all, Facebook, Snapchat and other apps have been applying filters to photos for years. The concern with FaceApp however is that its developers are based i...

Videos

1. Hacking with Friends Live: Weekly Security News and Hacking Tools
(SecurityFWD)
2. How to Recognize and Avoid Virus Threats Detected Scam
(VASTmicro)
3. Cybersecurity Weekly hacker news Sept 29 - August 4, 2022
(IT & DEVOPS MASTERCLASS)
4. New Scams to Watch Out For in 2022
(ThioJoe)
5. Big hacker is watching you: Who’s after your data, how they gain access, and why it matters
(McGill University)
6. What Happens If You Click The Link Of Youtube Bots?
(orangepeanut)
Top Articles
Latest Posts
Article information

Author: Dr. Pierre Goyette

Last Updated: 01/01/2023

Views: 6370

Rating: 5 / 5 (50 voted)

Reviews: 81% of readers found this page helpful

Author information

Name: Dr. Pierre Goyette

Birthday: 1998-01-29

Address: Apt. 611 3357 Yong Plain, West Audra, IL 70053

Phone: +5819954278378

Job: Construction Director

Hobby: Embroidery, Creative writing, Shopping, Driving, Stand-up comedy, Coffee roasting, Scrapbooking

Introduction: My name is Dr. Pierre Goyette, I am a enchanting, powerful, jolly, rich, graceful, colorful, zany person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.