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TikTok You Don’t Stop…. Collecting Your Data

By NMSG Security Research Writer: Adam Carnegie

As we have all braved this ongoing pandemic, we’ve been forced to consume different forms of media as we fight boredom. There are only so many shows to binge watch and attention spans are frayed after hours of conference calls via Zoom and wrestling with kids over virtual classrooms. This created a perfect storm for the social media platform TikTok.


TikTok is a relative newcomer to the social media arena, only being in business for three years. But since the pandemic hit, they’ve crossed the 2 billion download threshold globally with 165 million of those coming from the United States. The format is well suited to provide entertainment during these uncertain times. People upload entertaining short form videos that cover a wide range of topics. From lip-syncing to the President’s news conferences to dance and makeup challenges, there is something for everyone on the platform. It has even been heralded as a uniting force behind some of the recent protests regarding anti-racism and criminal justice, much like its social media big brother Twitter.


There have been recent concerns regarding the data the app collects. Considering the breadth of its adoption, TikTok has large resources in terms of the data it consumes. And the biggest question is where is that data going. TikTok’s parent company ByteDance which is based in Beijing. Numerous government officials have called for more regulation of the app with fears that its data could be funneled to the Chinese government. Branches of the United States government have already issued bans on having the app downloaded on government devices. And there are calls that larger bans are being considered. Just last month, India issued a ban on the app throughout the country.


So what exactly is TikTok collecting from your device if you have it installed. A security expert set out to understand exactly what is being collected by the app. Based on what they found, the app does not download any more data than the Facebook app. But that is troubling already. It collects data about what you watch, where you are, and what type of device you are using much like Facebook. What is frightening about TikTok is how many measures are in the app to hide exactly what the app is collecting. While fears about the data collected being turned over to the Chinese government have been expressly refuted by TikTok, there are still questions about everything that the app is doing.


Nine Mile Security Group is poised to provide the services to help you evaluate your business’s devices to make sure your important data is protected. We will tailor a strategy specific your business needs. Contact us today to begin your journey towards premium cybersecurity.

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