It’s okay to have fun with apps on your mobile device. But if you hold a government clearance, you need to be smart. Two apps recently made the news for their risks to national security workers. While these applications are the ones making the news, it’s important to consider every app you download to your mobile device. Consider the terms of service, who owns and developed the app, and not just what it offers to you for entertainment or convenience, but what you may be turning over to the company or entity who owns the service. When it comes to apps, there is generally no such thing as free.

Download Any App with Caution

FaceApp is owned by a Chinese technology company, and it captures loads of personal data, including, most obviously, your face. When you download FaceApp you’re turning over your photos and the other information to China. The entertainment value is there, but so are the security risks. If you work in the national security space, even if you’re not working for the CIA, an application like this simply isn’t worth it.

Like FaceApp, TikTok is owned by a Chinese entity. The issue isn’t the quirky videos you post, but how the app provides access to the data on your phone, and how that could be used by Chinese intelligence. And while FaceApp remains in the news as U.S. companies work to buy the company and access to its 100 million U.S.-based users, keep in mind that even if the app is acquired by a U.S.-based company, national security workers should still be cautious.

Like cleaning out your closet, an app overhaul may be worth considering on a regular basis, in order to ensure you’re familiar with everything installed, and that those apps aren’t taking more data than they need – or than they’re worth. When it comes to any app, carefully read the terms of service before you download it. You may be turning over more information than you think.

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Lindy Kyzer is the director of content at Have a conference, tip, or story idea to share? Email Interested in writing for Learn more here.. @LindyKyzer