I have noted with great concern the sudden upsurge of the Social Media App produced by a Chinese Company, the app name is TikTok.
If I told you that Tiktok knows you to the extent that it can produce your naked pictures, secret conversations, and even your Bank information, will you believe me? Okay, read on and make sure you read this article to the end so you don’t lose out.
TikTok allows you to create short, 15-second videos on your phone and post the content to a public platform. The videos are usually enhanced by the user with music and visual elements, such as filters and stickers, and can also be co-created with other users through a split-screen “duet” feature.
When in the past I decided to advance my I.T knowledge beyond Web technologies and Software Design into Cyber Security and Ethical Hacking, one of the things that got me excited most is how in the near future our lives are going to be completely Controlled by the Internet, as I have always said, the internet is the new “Oxygen” of human existence. The Wars of the future will not be fought with Ak47 rifles and fighter Jets, they are going to be Cyberwars and Bio wars, and smart Nations, smart Companies, smart Individuals are preparing themselves for the revolution of the future that is imminent.
Anyway, here is the deal in terms of content privacy controls – TikTok has full access to the video, audio, and address book on your device, which isn’t really surprising since TikTok is an audio-visual app by design.
But here is where it gets scary, Tiktok goes beyond the basic permissions and has the ability to access other apps running at the same time, which can give the app with that permission the ability to access data in another app like your Banking App. Tiktok can sniff your Secret information from other Apps on your phone! And that does include even your Bank App!
Again, Tiktok has a secret background recording feature, that turns on your microphone to pick conversations even without the Tiktok app being opened at all. This means that even when you are not using Tiktok, it is still listening to you and everyone around you.
If you take a closer look at their Data storage location and evaluate some security concerns, a lot comes to light. I believe strongly that one of the biggest concerns surrounding this TikTok is where user information is stored. A quick look at their website, they state that: “We store all TikTok US user data in the United States, with backup redundancy in Singapore. Our data centers are located entirely outside of China, and none of our data is subject to Chinese law.”
Whilst this sounds comforting, there are a twist and a trick that Tiktok doesn’t tell you and that is, it is actually required in Chinese law to share Users Data with Beijing! Remember also, you are using Tiktok in Africa, not in the US, so where is Tiktok storing your own Data?
And what kind of User data is Tiktok taking from your Phone?
Images; if you take a nude picture and send it privately to your spouse via WhatsApp, Tiktok accesses it and sends it to their Server, so they have a copy – yes. Aside images, they collect information about other apps, read your text messages, the sites you visit, your browsing history, Geolocation Data – meaning they know where you are at any time, and so much more.
Because of TikTok’s ability to collect personal information and excessive device control, just recently the U.S. Army and Navy banned its use on government phones following a Defense Department warning regarding potential personal information risk. If the US Military can ban an App, you should take this very seriously. Recently TikTok itself confirmed it patched multiple vulnerabilities that potentially exposed accounts, user information, and videos.
If you are tech-savvy, let me give you a Security tip for free, you can use Avira as a side neat feature to block background running apps, but Greenify works better, it shuts down all background running apps until you launch them manually, this prevents Spywares that might have been injected latently into your phone through social engineering. It also improves your phone performance and optimizes your battery usage since all background running apps are inspected and shutdown.
In conclusion: As a Cyber Security Consultant, I, BigGodwin, can safely recommend that anyone using TikTok should discard it, except you are not a user that carries highly classified contents on your phone. In order words, if you know that there is nothing on your Phone that no one can’t see, well, then Goodluck with Tiktok, but anytime you are using a Chinese App, think twice.