TikTok is a new player in the social media game. It is a platform designed to share short videos, where creators can add music, filters and effects easily.

Users interact with videos by submitting comments or likes and can follow creators they wish to. These videos can also be exported and shared to other platforms.  A defining feature of TikTok is the ‘For You’ page which is a personalised feed of videos that are based on the user’s previous activity (viewing history and interests). This allows anyone to upload a video that could reach a huge global audience with ease.

Data security and privacy risks

There are huge privacy risks related to the use of TikTok. These mainly relate to data security and privacy due to the significant amount of user data TikTok will collect about its users such as location, browsing history (every video watched and how long for), biometric identifiers (such as faceprints and voiceprints) and the type of device being used.

Another huge concern for TikTok is that none of the messages sent within the app are encrypted, which allows easier interception for attackers. The final biggest issue with TikTok is the inability to setup two factor authentication.

Two factor authentication is a security measure that requires users to provide two different methods of authentication when logging into an account. This is most typically done with a password and a verification code, provided by an authentication app or SMS message. This extra layer of security makes it more difficult for an unauthorised individual to gain access to an account, even if they have obtained the user’s password.

National security fears have resulted in partial or total bans

Some nations have declared that TikTok provides national security fears due to the parent company being Chinese owned and having a speculated involvement with the state. These concerns are strengthened by the sheer amount of data TikTok collects from its users.

In America, the app narrowly avoided a complete ban in 2020, which was overturned in 2021 due to a variety of complex legal challenges.  Currently, TikTok is banned entirely in Afghanistan, India and Pakistan for a variety of reasons relating to privacy and censorship concerns.

 

The following countries and regions have announced or have already implemented partial or total bans on the app: Australia, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, European Union, France, Latvia, Netherlands, Norway, Taiwan, United Kingdom and The United States.

TikTok is a tool that can be used to easily reach a huge audience, which can be an invaluable marketing tool. It can also provide an outlet for businesses to show a more personal and human side to them, gathering trust and a stronger reputation with customers or potential customers. However, it may not be a beneficial tool for all businesses as it is typically used in a personal and consumer market, not business markets.

How can you stay protected?

To stay protected, it is important to ensure that your account is using a strong and unique password.
It is also important to clearly establish acceptable usage of the platform within the workplace, through policies and education of the risks of social media in the workplace.

If a total ban is deemed necessary, it is crucial to enforce this with network security policies and filters as well as device management measures to ensure that employees are compliant with the ban.

Our expert team can help your business stay safe in the online world. Get in touch to learn more about becoming Cyber Wise.

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