By B.N. Frank
U.S. cybersecurity risks do include A LOT more than TikTok. Nevertheless, some TikTok users now have plenty to worry about too.
TikTok Illicitly Gathered MAC Addresses of Android Users for More than a Year
An analysis of TikTok’s Android application revealed that it collected unique identifying data allowing the company to track users online.
TikTok is a popular social media app developed by a Chinese company called ByteDance Ltd. The US government is pressuring the company because it collects data from American users and could turn it over to the Chinese government.
While ByteDance denied such allegations, it’s based in China. The only way it can operate there is by adhering to strict laws that could allow the Chinese government to get access.
TikTok operators have long said that they won’t give any data to the authorities, but the fact that the application was gathering MAC addresses of the devices it was running on makes it difficult to believe them.
Android doesn’t usually allow apps to gather such data, but it turns out there’s a loophole in the security systems, used by TikTok, that allows around 1% of the Android space’s apps to collect MAC addresses. According to the investigation spearheaded by The WallStreet Journal, Google said it was investigating the situation, but didn’t elaborate further.
Any device connected to the internet has a MAC address, and it’s a unique identifier. That address remains the same, and it’s likely used in targeted advertisements. But the address can be used to follow a device online, posing a much greater security risk.
Protect Your Privacy with a Phone Shield Faraday Bag
Of course all apps seem to be vulnerable to surveillance and data collection whether it’s by app providers or hackers. All wireless and “smart” devices also seem to be vulnerable to surveillance and data collection by the manufacturers (see 1, 2, 3, 4) as well as by hackers who may wreck additional havoc via theft and setting devices on fire.
Apps may be fun but the risks seem to outweigh the benefit. WiFi may be convenient but using a wired Ethernet connection is more secure. It also significantly reduces your exposure to harmful Electromagnetic Radiation.
Activist Post reports regularly about unsafe technology. For more information visit our archives.
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