Category Archives: TikTok

We will cover all news related to the Chinese social network TikTok.

Personal data exposed due to security breach on TikTok

Recently, computer security researchers at Check Point Research, a security solution specialist, discovered a security flaw in one of the main features of China's original social network TikTok.

Taking into account the fact that the application did not already have a good reputation in 2020 due to multiple security flaws discovered during the year, the computer security company Checkpoint warned the parent company of the application of the aforementioned vulnerability. The security flaw primarily affects the privacy management tool. Not only, in terms of functionality that allows you to make new friends, "Find friends", the security flaw is beautiful and well present there which allows hackers to power in the application.

Because of this vulnerability, cyber criminals can access personal files that users of the video-sharing app.

This article will also interest you: TikTok vs. the U.S. administration: a reprieve for the Chinese company

The vulnerability allows hackers to bypass using the above feature, the privacy protection that protects users' private data. The good news in the story is that the flaw has already been fixed. A security patch has been made available for all users. However not to make the updates exposes these greatly. Anyone who has yet to practice made update is urged to do so. Right now hackers are on the lookout. The slightest deviation in conduct is likely to create more serious consequences.

Moreover, the information that hackers could have gathered through this vulnerability is among many others:

– profile pictures;

– photos of the avatar;

– unique identifiers;

– the status of the account;

– the phone number.

In other words, in totally private information.

In practice this is not the first time that cybersecurity company Check Point Research has discovered security vulnerabilities on the social network and made them known to owners. Already during the month of January 2020, the company said weaving computer security solutions was making it known to Bytedance, TikTok's parent company, several security flaws, which if exploited could have allowed with hacker to easily access users' account content, to perform certain tasks instead of the latter. This is not even known to the account holder.

"Our main motivation this time was to explore TikTok's privacy. We were curious about whether the TikTok platform could be used to obtain private user data. It was revealed that the answer was yes, because we were able to bypass TikTok's multiple protection mechanisms, leading to a security breach impacting confidentiality," explains Oded Vanunu, head of product vulnerability research at Check Point,

For its part, the social network's managers did not fail to raise having "appreciated the work of trusted partners like Check Point to identify potential problems encountered, solved before they can affect users".

To exploit the vulnerability that has already been corrected, Checkpoints researchers have proceeded in four steps:

At first the researchers created a list of tools to query the social network's servers. "Then they created a list of session tokens used to query TikTok's servers. You should know here that each session token is then valid for 60 days. Then, the researchers bypassed the application's HTTP signature mechanism using its own signature service, then run in the background. Finally, the final step was to modify httpse requests and signatures, then use multiple session tokens and device identifiers, to bypass TikTok's protection mechanisms. Oded Vanunu. Of course, the danger is ruled out if users respond properly to the application of the update provided to them.

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TikTok vs. U.S. Administration: a reprieve for the Chinese company

The US administration of Donald Trump has reportedly further rejected the implementation of the executive order banning the use of Chinese-made enforcement in the United States.

The ban should have taken effect from midnight Thursday. However, for some reason the Trump administration is pushing back that date again.

This article will also interest you: TikTok still available in the United States

As a reminder, apartment application to the Chinese group ByteDance has been accused for some time now of serving as a spy point for the benefit of the Beijing government.

The report of the ban was announced in a statement released by the Commerce Department on Thursday. It would seem that she "will not take effect pending further legal developments. as the press release states. The Commerce Department is responding to a decision handed down on October 30 by a federal court in Pennsylvania in the eastern United States. This decision follows a referral by Troy, the social network's content creator. As a result, Judge Wendy Beetlestone then issued a stand-off to the Trump administration so that it would not prevent the Chinese application from being provided by essential services such as accommodation. The Pennsylvania court judge haddock asking for the suspension of the presidential decree issued on August 6 TikTok, which presented it as a "threat to national security".

The judge's decision was hit by an appeal from the U.S. Department of Justice.

"We look forward to reaching a solution that addresses their concerns on the social network's side in a statement, released after the Commerce Department's. It should be noted that TikTok himself filed a Washington court request to have the presidential decree suspended. Last Tuesday, the social network hired an appeals court in Washington. The aim was to overturn another executive order signed by US President Donald Trump on August 14, 2020. To that end, it was a measure that forced TikTok's parent company to sell its U.S. operations within 90 days, or face banishment, in the name of "U.S. national security." The court, for its part, gave a deadline of up to December for each party to present supporting documents.

In practice, it must be said that Donald Trump's approach to the accusations made to popular enforcement is not yet followed by physical evidence. According to him, the app would collect data from the Americans and pass it on to the Chinese government for espionage intentions.

Since his defeat to Joe Biden, the Democrat, the issue of TikTok has not yet been addressed by his administration. It turns out that he and his team are busy challenging the results of the votes, launching accusations of fraud without providing further evidence. However, the outgoing U.S. president did not fail to sign another executive order on Thursday that prohibits Americans from investing in Chinese companies, which are accused of having a connection with China's military activities.

For the time being, an agreement has been reached between various companies including ByteDance, Oracle and Walmart, in order to respond favourably to the requirements of the Trump administration. If the Chinese group is at least willing with this initiative to unite with its two American companies as technology and commercial partners, which they will all have 20% of the company, however, before any conclusions it would first require the agreement of the Chinese government. Indeed Beijing does not agree to drop TikTok technology in the hands of the Americans. In particular, the algorithm developed by the social network that allows users to accurately display content that might be of interest to users. The Chinese government's technology export policy is very restrictive. China has even admitted to losing TikTok to the United States than to drop it into the hands of the Americans.

TikTok is also used by nearly 100 million Americans and 700 million worldwide.

Moreover, with the election of Joe Biden, the social network can hope for an improvement in this situation, because as we know The Democrat does not share many aspects of Donald Trump's policies.

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TikTok still available in the United States

Following a possible agreement between the Chinese social network and some American companies, the U.S. justice system continues to maintain the download of TikTok.

In this way, American users will continue to receive updates and even download the mobile app. This is still possible thanks to a US judge who managed to block the suspension ordered by Donald Trump, in extremis. As is well known Donald Trump signed an executive order in August to ban a popular social network apartment from the Chinese group ByteDance. The reason given was homeland security, the Government of Donald Trump believes that the application could allow the Chinese state to spy on the Americans.

This article will also interest you: TikTok: Swedes in turn ban the Chinese entertainment app

Just hours before Donald Trump's decision since taking effect, banning TikTok from legal download platforms, the judge named Carl Nicholas filed an appeal on September 18, two days before the ban came into effect. The latter agrees with the Chinese company. Despite this, he does not ask for the suspension of the prohibition decree made by Donald Trump that walks to ban the application by November 12 if an agreement has not found between the Chinese and some American companies

For the time being, the reasons for its decision have not yet been made public. This is still confidential for some reason. If the parties can agree, then everything will become clearer and clearer. "We are satisfied that the court agreed with our legal arguments and prevented the implementation of the ban," TikTok said.

For its part, the Ministry of Commerce mentioned that it will respect the judge's decision without hiding its firm intention "to vigorously defend the presidential decree against legal pitfalls".

One of the arguments put forward by TikTok's lawyers would be that in the run-up to the elections, which are due to take place on 3 November, it would be unconstitutional to block downloads of the app as it could undermine Americans' freedom of expression.

"TikTok is much more than an application, it's the modern version of the public forum, it's a community, it's a means of communication (…) all the more important in times of pandemic," notes Lawman John Hall. "If the ban comes into force, it's as if the government were preventing two-thirds of the country from coming to the agora," he adds.

The entertainment company also mentioned that the implementation of this decision could have in some way undermined its growth. Since the beginning of the summer, TikTok has been gaining almost 400,000 new American users per day. And of course not being able to update the app could have ironically endangered the 100 million American users as stated by TikTok's lawyer.

The government justifies the ban by the fact that the Chinese application could allow the Chinese state to plunder the data of American citizens. This facilitates China's espionage. And that accusation isn't from now on. Although since the time no formal proof has been provided by Donald Trump and his team.

We know, for example, that since the ban, several negotiations are under way to find out how the application might pass on the American side. For the moment of American namely Oracle and Walmart. They have until November 12 to reach an agreement according to the U.S. Treasury.

TikTok confirmed last weekend the creation of a new company on behalf of TikTok Global with the partnership of Americans as its Walmart and Oracle. However, the realization of this partnership will depend on the agreement of the American and Chinese governments.

"We are continuing our ongoing dialogue with the government to finalize this project, to which the President has given his preliminary approval," TikTok said on Sunday evening.

It can only be remembered that the Chinese state to mention that it will never accept that the application falls into the hands of American companies. China would rather lose TikTok in Western countries than leave. And he's been clear on that. The tussle is therefore engaged.

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Understanding the TikTok versus USA problem

For a few months now, we know that the Chinese network TikTok, apartment in ByteDance, a Chinese group is on the Select.

A few weeks ago, President Donald Trump signed an executive order banning TikTok from the U.S. territory if it did not agree to sell its business to a U.S. company or affiliated with U.S. policy within 30 days.

This article will also interest you: TikTok: China criticizes U.S. offensive policy

Since then, several American groups like Microsoft have already expressed their willingness to make this acquisition. But how did this case really start? What are the stakes of this opposition between the U.S. government and the Chinese social network? We will try to understand this matter more deeply.

1- TikTok, what is it?

TikTok is an app that was born out of the redesign of Musical.ly, by the Chinese group ByteDance, in November 2017. The acquisition amounted to nearly $800 million. For 3 years already this application has been launched on Android and iOS. She will become a celebrity among young people especially teenagers who have begun to take a liking to create and share short videos of a purely playful character. With the containment due to the measures adopted by the government to curb coronavirus, the popularity of TikTok will grow and literally become the most downloaded social network during this time with more than 2 billion downloads, which is a rather exceptional growth for an application. The app now has estimates of 1 billion monthly active users, 55% of whom are in China, and nearly 100 million in the United States. Note, however, that in China, the application is called Douyin and not TikTok.

2- What exactly does Donald Trump blame for the TikTok app?

The U.S. government has said that the application can serve China's intelligence interests. Indeed, according to Donald Trump and his administration, it presents a certain risk of letting this application work as such. Indeed, the risk of working with the Chinese government to transmit certain information generated by American users which in the first place is something that has been of concern for a very long time. Not to mention the Chinese Law, which requires any company based in China to cooperate with the administration and allow the administration to access its servers in case of need for information. In addition, a partnership reads the Chinese Ministry of the Interior to TikTok's parent company, ByteDance. All this is likely to reinforce the American's suspicion of the social network.

However, the Chinese company from the beginning has denied this possibility and this American position. ByteDance defines itself as an international company because it has offices in several countries in the United States, India and China. Its CEO is based in California, where its head office is now located. However, it is not only the United States that highlights the threat that the Chinese social network may pose. Recently there is also India which has taken steps to ban TikTok on its territory. It should be noted that the application had already been banned from India before being rehabilitated because the government believed that it was spreading mores that were unsuitable for young people.

In the United States, it is not just the security argument that prevails. Indeed, with TikTok's popularity with young people, elected officials are afraid that this may not be a source of influence with potential voters in the future, especially for a platform that is difficult to control than Facebook or Twitter. And to demonstrate the veracity of his remarks, the U.S. government relies on the decision of the independent administrative authority responsible for regulating telecoms, the Federal Communication Commision, which sanctioned the Chinese social network for illegally collecting personal data of its users under the age of 13. Without in accordance with U.S. law, in this context, explicit parental consent is required and obtained while U.S. law establishes this as a fundamental rule. In addition, an investigation initiated by the Wall Street Journal, found the social network illegally collected MAC addresses that could allow the identification of computer tools used by users for a period of 18 months. This information has so far not been confirmed by experts who have looked at the latest versions of the app to study it and determine the methods of data collection that they felt were similar or better than some apps such as Instagram or Snapchat.

In another sense, several people observing this news felt that the U.S. government's fight against Chinese enforcement is due to the tug-of-war that the U.S. government has been fighting against China in recent years.In this context, it would appear that the US government is trying to put pressure on Beijing in its own way. After attacking the Chinese giant Huawei, stripping it of some of its American partners and preventing it from obtaining certain materials necessary for the manufacture of its terminals, it is around the chinese flagship applications that its WeChat and TikTok, to be in the crosshairs and serve as a spearhead in the American strategy to make China bend. Especially as Tiktok is booming, is threatening the hegemony of the big players in the social entertainment world that are Facebook, Instagram Twitter, which are American companies.

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TikTok: China criticizes U.S. offensive policy

On Monday, yesterday, the Chinese government called American diplomacy a "gunboat" of the United States.

It is recalled that very recently US President Donald Trump issued an executive order requiring the Chinese group ByteDance to divest certain activities especially American, from its famous social network TikTok. This move will only rekindle the tensions that already exist between China and the United States.

This article will also interest you: The Chinese social network TikTok is accused of collecting information without the knowledge of its users

On the American side, the argument is always the same. The Chinese-born social network would collude with its government, so it siphons data from U.S. users for intelligence purposes. This allows the American president to invoke his famous reason for national security.

As a result, since the beginning of August, the US President has stopped taking a set of measures to fully understand the Chinese platform. Some pretty radical measures. For example, the U.S. president take executive order for the app and his Chinese colleague WeChat within 45 days. Thus prohibiting him from accessing any relationship with American partners.

In his new decree, the US President specifies as a condition for the non-banishment of TikTok on one condition. That the Chinese company necessarily cede its activities to an American group.

In this regard, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said: "Freedom and security are merely pretexts for some American politicians to conduct digital gunboat diplomacy." Referring to the warship used by some Western powers during the 19th century to subdue China during the so-called opium wars, a humiliating history so far is felt by the Chinese.

According to the Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman, the social network for some time has been complying with the requirements of the U.S. government. The fact of having as a senior official as Americans, hosted his servers in the United States not forgetting that he had to make public his source code. But all this seems to have not satisfied Donald Trump and his government. "But (the platform) could not escape the extortion practiced by some individuals in the United States, on the basis of a logic of banditry and selfish political interests," Zhao Lijian replied at a regular press briefing.

On the other hand, the American giant Microsoft, is in the middle of negotiations to buy the Chinese social network if the latter is put up for sale. But the takeover will only be for some of TikTok's activities, either in the United States and a little beyond. The U.S. press has estimated such a transaction to the tune of $10 billion to $30 billion. And that's not all, the U.S. executive order recently taken by Donald Trump stipulates that if transactions take place, a large part of this money must go back to the U.S. treasury, "a very large proportion of the price must go back to the U.S. Treasury." A requirement that is criticized and even called a mafia practice. In addition to this much-hit demand, the US President also demanded that the Chinese company that owns TikTok, byteDance, confirm that it has destroyed all data "from American users, obtained or derived from TikTok and Musical.ly."

Let's just say that the social network is on the select right now. In Sweden, for example, some organisations have recently formally banned their employees from using TikTok. In particular the national public television SVT. It invokes a security issue. The statement came down on Monday. It should be noted that the national public radio also formulated the same ban. "SVT's IT security department has estimated that the TikTok application provides more information (to the Chinese group Bytedance, which owns the platform) than could be considered necessary," the Swedish channel said in a recent post on its website. "SVT has therefore decided that employees are not allowed to have the TikTok app on their working phone," she added. It was by email that the channel's staff were reportedly informed.

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