How to Avoid Malware in Popular AI Photo Editing Apps
Updated: Mar 23
AI tech is very popular in the ChatGPT space and it's making its way into the art space as well with AI apps able to transform mundane pictures into stunning pieces of artwork. One of the most popular forms of this are social media portrait apps that can take a series of your online photos and create portraits that add makeup or cartoon filters on your face for more interesting selfies, or just to clean up some lower-quality pictures you took. Unfortunately, many of these apps are scaping your information and using it to sell that information on the dark web. You are also at risk of being tricked into clicking on the endless amounts of malicious pop ads, and risk of these apps spying on you as well, as links that will take you to malicious websites. Before you download the latest beauty AI apps, check out what these apps are doing in the background of your devices.
There are many AI apps on the market and all of them have the ability to transform your social media photos and create some out-of-this-world images that are art gallery worthy. Anything that becomes popular on the web gets the attention of cyber crooks which means that technology and apps that are created for entertainment purposes are transformed into tools crooks can use to steal your personal data.
BeautyPlus - Easy Photo Editor & Selfie Camera is a popular app with over 300 million installs, which was identified as spyware. Its developer, Meitu, was suspected of collecting user data in its Chinese servers and then selling it. They aren't the only ones. iJoysoft and Lyrebird Studio, the developer behind Beauty Makeup, Selfie Camera Effects, and Photo Editor, was identified for sending users pornographic content, redirecting them to phishing sites that are designed to collect your pictures. Many of these AI photo apps have malware called FaceStealer.
Some of the apps you should be aware of are:
“Pista – Cartoon Photo Effect”
"Pistachio – Cartoon Photo Effects"
"Fun Coloring – Paint by Number"
"Sketch Cartoon" used adware, which bombards you with unexpected ads.
Things to know about some AI Beauty Apps.
Many of these apps are based in Hong Kong or China
A lot of these apps don’t ask for permission to use your camera but turn the camera on without any permission
Unnecessary permissions include recording audio, using GPS, and seeing users’ phone statuses
Three seemingly separate developers seem to be run by the same group and may be connected to apps previously found to contain a widely-dispersed Trojan
Apps from unknown app developers, especially free apps
Apps that engage in unethical behavior or show aggressive ads
The location of the app developers, and the transparency of this location
Any history of malware, spyware, vulnerabilities, or unethical practices
How to avoid or remove malicious apps
In all honesty, you don’t really need these beauty AI apps as most of this AI technology is included in camera and filter apps in Snapchat, Meta Messenger, and Instagram. If you don't feel the technology in these social media platforms isn't enough, do a search in the Google Play store or the Apple App Store for Beauty AI apps and read the reviews to see which ones seem to be trustworthy.
If you have any of the previously mentioned apps installed on your devices, follow these steps to remove them.
For your Apple devices:
Touch and hold an app, then tap Remove App > Delete App > Delete.
You can also use the App Library, introduced in iOS 14, to get a curated list of your apps grouped by category. Swipe past the last page of your Home screen to access it. Tap and hold the app, then select Delete App > Delete.
For your Android devices:
Long-press an app, then tap App Info > Uninstall.
Go to Settings > Apps & Notifications to see a list of your apps and delete them the same way.
Or you can open the Google Play Store app and navigate to Menu > My apps & games. Tap on the app and hit Uninstall.
Note: Samsung and OnePlus phones have an Uninstall option under the app shortcuts menu.
Here are some other things you can do to tips on how to avoid malicious apps on your smart devices:
If you own an Android device, Turn on Google Play Protect. Heading to Google Play Store > Profile > Play Protect > Settings and turning on Scan apps with Play Protect.
Keep your phone updated. When those updates show up on your devices, download them immediately. Having the latest patches and fixes can protect you from malicious software.
Only download apps from Android and Apple app stores. Always go to the official source and double-check that you are installing the correct apps.
Hopefully, this post has given the information you need about the dangers of using AI portrait apps. If you need further assistance, please reach out to me with any questions you might have. I am always happy to help!
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