Cybersecurity expert says Apple and Android settings can override TikTok data permissions
If you’re one of TikTok’s more than 1 billion monthly users, one cybersecurity expert warns that without proper settings, the app can collect data about your contacts, browser history, location, and even personal health information.
“This app has access to things on your phone that you might care about: your contacts, your location, your shopping intent, your purchase history, your browser history, anything we probably want to keep private.” – CEO of SideChannel and This was announced on Wednesday in the program “Morning with Mary” by the former head of the US Department of Defense Cybersecurity Brian Hougley.
Hougley’s comments come just a day after FBI Director Christopher Wray admitted on Capitol Hill that the agency has concerns about threats to the social media platform’s security.
“We have national security concerns, at least from the FBI, about TikTok,” Ray said Tuesday. “They include the possibility that the Chinese government could use it to control the collection of data on millions of users, or manage a recommendation algorithm that could be used for influencer operations if they so desired, or to control software on millions of devices.”
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Earlier this month, senior Republican and FCC Commissioner Brendan Carr doubled down on his argument that the Treasury Department and its subsidiary Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS) should ban TikTok for US users on grounds of national security and cyber security.
“Once they get that data, they can do all sorts of espionage and blackmail,” Carr said in an interview.Cavuto: coast to coast“One thing that really worries me is that this data is coming back to Beijing and being used in their AI work. Right now, [People’s Liberation Army], [Chinese Communist Party] use and improve this AI to maintain their authoritarian power.”
According to Haugley, TikTok users are unknowingly agreeing to the app’s terms and conditions, granting the app permission to create a “full profile” about that person — what neighborhood they live in, what accounts they interact with or communicate with, even their dog’s name.
“Most people would never want to sign up for this. But we provide this type of access and information for free to an application that is inside China and has access to the PDA,” said Haugley.
“If you contact your doctor to view your card, which is now in your browser history, this application has access to your phone in a way that can give them access to all this information,” he explained, also noting that passwords are also vulnerable, and “that information that you put on this phone, TikTok, other similar applications that you give permissions on your phone, you allow it to continue.”
Although TikTok is owned by Chinese media company Bytedance, Haugley noted that any business that operates in China is “owed” to their government’s requests.
“I don’t think we’re doing enough. We have the ability to put pressure on Google and Apple to remove this app from their store,” said Haugley. “We have an opportunity to improve regulation in the United States and actually create an infrastructure that could block access to this data or this data leaving our environment. It’s not something the US has created today, it’s something I think we really need.”
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Howgli stated that once you have deactivated your TikTok profile and deleted the app from your phone, your information is “deleted” from the TikTok database. For those who prefer to continue using the popular platform, he recommends going into Apple or Android settings and turning off TikTok’s access to contacts, location services, and tracking.
“If you are going to install it for any reason, look at the permissions you are giving it. In fact, you have the option to change these permissions. Don’t just accept the default app and install it as is,” he said. “The phone actually has the ability to override, and that’s where the control really is.”
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