TikTok security issues exposed app users to hackers

Video-sharing app also adds 'extremely worrying' deepfake feature

Anthony Cuthbertson
Wednesday 08 January 2020 14:56
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Tiktok security issues exposed app users to hackers

Major security issues have been discovered within the hugely popular app TikTok, threatening the safety of users.

Researchers at Check Point found multiple vulnerabilities that would allow attackers to manipulate videos and steal confidential personal information.

"The research found that an attacker could send a spoofed SMS message to a user containing a malicious link," Check Point noted.

"If the user clicked on the malicious link, the attacker was able to access the user’s TikTok account and manipulate its content by deleting videos, uploading unauthorized videos, and making private or 'hidden' videos public."

Security concerns with the app, which has over a billion users across 150 countries, recently resulted in the US Army banning soldiers from using it.

TikTok said it had fixed the security flaws found by Check Point after being alerted about them in November. A fix was rolled out within a month, though users had already been exposed to the issue for almost a year.

"Like many organisations, we encourage responsible security researchers to privately disclose zero-day vulnerabilities to us," TikTok said in a statement.

"Before public disclosure, Check Point agreed that all reported issues were patched in the latest version of our app. We hope that this successful resolution will encourage further collaboration with security researchers."

It is not clear whether any hackers exploited the vulnerability, though the rapid growth of the app means it has become a major target for cyber criminals.

"Malicious actors are always looking for vulnerabilities, so TikTok should not be shamed for being targeted," said Jake Moore, a researcher at cyber security firm ESET.

"The fact that they are taking ownership and offering quick support updates to mitigate the risk to their users is a positive step that should be commended."​

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