TikTok has quickly become a popular application in recent months, serving as a platform for viral videos, memes, and even political satire and activism. The app has found its way into the hands of Guyanese youths who enjoy viewing the content posted and some who even take part in uploading videos themselves. However, is it possible that beneath its fun exterior lies a plethora of dangers and risks?
Recently, there have been studies that highlight the potential vulnerabilities that are embedded within the TikTok application (Alon Boxiner, 2020). These vulnerabilities were dangerous enough for the US Navy to ban the use of the application for its personnel (Brown, 2019). Cybercriminals can exploit these vulnerabilities by launching various attacks on unsuspecting users of the TikTok platform.
Some of these vulnerabilities allow attackers to:
- Get ahold of TikTok accounts and manipulate them
- Delete and upload unauthorized videos
- Make private videos public
- Reveal personal information stored on the account such as email addresses and phone numbers.
There are other issues such as user privacy that are worrying. Apple recently discovered that TikTok has been secretly spying on millions of unsuspecting iPhone users. It accomplished this by accessing the clipboard feature and reading the content from it (Rasmussen, 2020). It was also discovered that TikTok attempted to steal passwords and sensitive data from other apps on Apple devices. The app attempted to exploit a security flaw in iOS 14 to accomplish this (Doffman, 2020).
How to protect yourself?
It is recommended that you:
- Avoid installing this application on work devices. Work devices should only be used for work related duties.
- Avoid installing the application altogether if you are concerned about your privacy.
- Be careful of what you upload. Attackers can make your private content into public and control your account.
- Do not share personal information on the platform to anyone.
- Beware of who you communicate with. You may communicate with a cybercriminal who is trying to steal your personal information.
While TikTok is an entertaining platform, users must be aware of the risks associated with the use of the application. Many will still use the application regardless of the bugs and vulnerabilities, but it is our responsibility to keep our data safe from compromise.
- Alon Boxiner, E. V. (2020, January 08). Tik or Tok? Is TikTok secure enough? Retrieved from Research.checkpoint.com: https://research.checkpoint.com/2020/tik-or-tok-is-tiktok-secure-enough/
- Brown, D. (2019, December 23). The U.S. Navy banned TikTok from government-issued smartphones over cybersecurity concerns. Retrieved from USA Today: https://www.usatoday.com/story/tech/2019/12/23/us-navy-bans-personnel-using-tiktok-government-issued-phones/2732203001/
- Doffman, Z. (2020, June 26). Warning—Apple Suddenly Catches TikTok Secretly Spying On Millions Of iPhone Users. Retrieved from Forbes.com: https://www.forbes.com/sites/zakdoffman/2020/06/26/warning-apple-suddenly-catches-tiktok-secretly-spying-on-millions-of-iphone-users/#4778e17734ef
- Rasmussen, J. (2020, August 04). My take on the TikTok Tizzy. Retrieved from Abacode.com: https://abacode.com/my-take-on-the-tiktok-tizzy/