Why Is TikTok a Security Risk?

We are seeing more and more countries banning the use of TikTok, first on government devices and now on a…

We are seeing more and more countries banning the use of TikTok, first on government devices and now on a wider scale with the announcement of the move to ban TikTok in the USA unless it is sold by its Chinese owner, ByteDance.

The risk derives from its ownership – with the fact that TikTok is overseen by its parent company in China meaning that an increasing number of governments are concerned about its security. In this article, we’re taking a closer look at this risk and what it means on a user level.

The Security Challenges Facing TikTok Users

There are over one billion users on TikTok, with 135 million of them said to be based in the USA.

Rising fears think that, because the company is headquartered in and managed by a Chinese company, personal user data is being accessed and potentially used by Chinese officials. This data could be used for anything from accessing private data via devices to influencing behaviour and operations via the app. On official government devices, the risk is even higher due to the unprecedented access to other apps and systems.

Over the past 5 years, various governments have banned the use of TikTok on official devices as a result of this.

But it seems as if the ban could be widening beyond government devices and across the wider country – and countries all over the world.

Is TikTok Going to Be Banned?

With President Biden recently signing off on a widespread ban of TikTok, unless the company is sold by ByteDance and falls under new ownership, it seems as if the security risk is more dangerous than many of us thought.

In short, TikTok is a security risk because of the massive amount of data it holds about its users. This data and information could be exploited at anu time, exposing users to disinformation and promotion direct from China.

China has already been put under this spotlight for stealing data about American consumers, and for accessing information from various governments and companies around the world. The fear is that TikTok will make accessing this data even easier.

Whether the US ban is passed as a formal law remains to be seen and will depend on whether ByteDance does indeed sell the app or risk it being banned across the entire United States. However, the reason behind the potential ban seems justified given previous instances and the amount of data kept inside each account.

Other Risks for TikTok Users

Of course, security risks are not the only concerns relating to TikTok.

The rise in the deaths of young people as a result of dangerous challenges and trends remains an important topic of conversation, and something which is impacting the reputation of TikTok.

While various filters are in place to protect younger users and to ensure that they are not exposed to harmful content, the number of challenges which are directed at younger users is frightening. Education around staying safe online remains a vital part of the curriculum for most young people today.

And finally, it’s worth mentioning the rise in AI and the number of deep fakes that are being created as a result of innovative technology. From fake photos to online scams which replicate voices and even images in video calls, consumers are constantly being thrown fake photos and messages that they somehow need to filter out to avoid being scammed. This in itself poses an incredible security risk on a personal level for users.

So, what are your thoughts on TikTok as an app – and do you think it poses the security risk that it is constantly being painted alongside?