TikTok poses serious threat to privacy and data security

TikTok is one of the most downloaded mobile apps in recent years. Also, experts claim it is a threat to privacy and data security.

Three years since its first launch, TikTok has now been downloaded more than two billion times. In terms of usage time, the app ranks higher than Instagram and YouTube.

This popularity has brought the app to the attention of many security and data experts. During its early days, some privacy advocates noted that the app is mishandling some of its contents. Moreover, the developers of the app are neglecting the responsibility to regulate some contents.

What are the concerns

Since the explosion of TikTok into the mainstream consciousness, several cybersecurity firms have already flagged it. Check Point, an Israeli cybersecurity firm, reported that there are several backdoors embedded into the app. Moreover, the app also has some serious vulnerability issues that the developer failed to patch.

Some advocacy groups are concerned about the contents that are being shared on the app. While the app is mostly used for sharing quirky videos, there are some that use it for more mature content. These mature contents are easily accessible on the platform due to its lack of authoritative filter.

The latest to criticize the app is tech giant Apple which accuses developers of spying on its users. Apple discovers that the app is capturing all contents being copied into a user device’s clipboard. A clipboard is essentially where all copied contents are temporarily stored before they are posted.

A call to boycott TikTok

Following Apple’s discovery, many cybersecurity experts and privacy advocates have called to boycott TikTok. There are allegations that the app is being manipulated by the Chinese government to spy on people. The app is owned by ByteDance, an internet tech company based in Beijing.

Apple is not the only one that has discovered some of the app’s unethical lapses. A cybersecurity expert who successfully reverse-engineered the app claims that it is a data-collecting service. Some experts agree about this discovery, adding that the app is just pretending to a social media network.

The app can collect various data, including the device’s hardware information. The app is also collecting network related information like IP address, MAC address, and Wi-Fi access point.

TikTok may be a quirky and fun app to share videos with friends and other people around the globe. However, as experts have suggested, the app is more of a spy tool than a fun video app.

Image courtesy of Funstock/Shutterstock

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