TikTok Cybersecurity

TikTok CybersecurityThe social media platform TikTok is back in the cybersecurity spotlight this week after multiple state governors have taken action to ban the app on state devices. The Chinese-owned social media app gained popularity and tripled its user base during the pandemic. It currently has 140 million active users in the United States. State governments are concerned that the app could collect government or sensitive data and pass that information to the Chinese government.

Nebraska banned the app on government devices in the summer of 2020, the last time security concerns were raised about TikTok. During that same time, Amazon sent an email asking employees to remove the social media app from any devices that also access company email. Amazon later retracted the email, but the news prompted many states and private businesses to question the app’s security. The US government passed legislation that banned TikTok from federal and military devices in August 2020.

Last week Governors from South Dakota, South Carolina, Maryland, and Texas took action to ban TikTok from government computers and smartphones through executive orders or emergency directives.

The bans come as intelligence officials warn of increased privacy concerns from adversarial countries collecting personal data through smartphone apps. The Director of National Intelligence, Avril Haines, raised concerns over TikTok in an interview citing China’s interest in collecting personal data, using the data to target misinformation, and storing the data for future use.

In the same week, the FBI Director Chris Wray raised concerns about the app being owned by a country whose government is interested in US data. Wray highlighted the Chinese government’s ability to control the app’s recommendation algorithm, which could allow them to manipulate content and influence public opinion.

“All of these things are in the hands of a government that doesn’t share our values, and that has a mission that’s very much at odds with what’s in the best interests of the United States. That should concern us.” Wray said.

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Posted by Charles Wright