Social media has been buzzing about TikTok security concerns, but should you actually be worried? While it may not be selling all your personal info to China, there are a couple of issues that you should be aware of.
Companies banning the app
The latest security drama was caused Friday, when Amazon sent out an email to all employees asking them to delete TikTok from all devices used to access company emails. Oddly, they reversed the policy a few hours later, saying the message had been sent “in error.”
Meanwhile, Wells Fargo asked their employees to delete the app:
We have identified a small number of Wells Fargo employees with corporate-owned devices who had installed the TikTok application on their device. Due to concerns about TikTok’s privacy and security controls and practices, and because corporate-owned devices should be used for company business only, we have directed those employees to remove the app from their devices.
U.S. military personnel had already been required to delete the app from government-issued phones back in January, and been encouraged to delete it from personal phones as well.
The security concerns
Why the concern? Like most apps, TikTok offers periodic updates that often open up loopholes to potential hackers. One of these that occurred recently with TikTok was the way in which the app sent messages – opening the door for hackers to potentially send spam messages that looked that they were officially coming from the app. TikTok fixed the issue once they were made aware of what was happening
Another security concerns was that the app had recently been accessing the clipboard data of users. TikTok appears to have fixed this issue as well, but only after it was caught in the beta version of iOS 14. The app had been caught accessing the clipboard before – so whether they will stop for good remains to be seen.
To delete or not to delete? The verdict
Other than that, TikTok faces most of the same security concerns as any other social media app. Cyjax CISO Ian Thornton-Trump says,
It’s not any worse or any better than what Facebook, Google and thousands of apps are doing already. Any free service is going to want to monetize the data it’s accumulating.
If you are already active on Facebook or other social media apps, adding TikTok to the mix may not make much of a difference in how your personal data is used. It’s up to you to ensure that you’re monitoring your privacy settings, not opening spam messages, and not sharing sensitive information.