TikTok denies news that it was breached after a hacking group published images of what they claim is a TikTok database that includes the platform’s source code and user information.
TikTok said its crew “found no evidence of a security breach in reply to these allegations.”
Hackers shared the photos of the alleged database to a hacking forum, stating they obtained the data on a server used by TikTok. It asserts the server stores over 2 billion records and 790GB of user data, forum statistics, code, and more.
“We have verified that the data samples in the query are all publicly accessible and are not due to any settlement of TikTok systems, networks, or databases,” TikTok representative Maureen Shanahan said in a statement. “We do not believe users must take any proactive actions, and we remain determined to the safety and shield of our global community.”
Most of the “stolen” data seem to have been public-facing details scratched from the platform. Troy Hunt, a regional chief at Microsoft and the originator of the Have I Been Pwned tool, anointed the hackers’ statement “inconclusive” but surmised “it could be non-production or test data” that likely wasn’t accepted through a breach.
The hacking pack, who name themselves “AgainstTheWest,” claim they also acquired data from the Chinese messaging app WeChat. However, Hunt could not ascertain whether the hackers’ database contained robbed information, and WeChat didn’t instantly respond with a statement.
Both TikTok and WeChat have arrived under scrutiny over their links to China. TikTok has taken several steps, such as American housing data on Oracle’s US-based servers, to reverse recent reports about TikTok employees in China accessing US users’ information.
WeChat is a Chinese instant messaging, social media, and mobile payment app created by Tencent. First unleashed in 2011, it became the world’s largest standalone mobile app in 2018, with around 1 billion monthly active users. WeChat has been defined as China’s “app for everything” and a super-app because of its broad range of functions. WeChat furnishes text messaging, broadcast (one-to-many) messaging, video conferencing, hold-to-talk voice messaging, video games, photographs and videos, and location sharing.
User activity on WeChat is analyzed, tracked, and shared with Chinese authorities upon request as part of the mass surveillance network in China. WeChat censors politically sensitive topics in China. Data transmitted by accounts documented outside China is surveilled, scrutinized, and used to create censorship algorithms in China.
No one was designed for what TikTok would evolve when it was first released in 2018, and it has grown into the fastest-growing social media app in less than four years. Since its modest origin in 2017, this bite-sized rendition of YouTube is centered on short 15-second videos spread across many classes, thanks to TikTok’s extensive catalog of sound effects, music snippets, and available user filters to create their content. The idea after TikTok wasn’t revolutionary per se, but it permitted itself to build on the triumph of popular prototype apps like Vine and Dubsmash.
TikTok was launched initially in 2017, as Duyin, in China, where it still lives as a separate app with an outstanding 639.4 million users in China alone. TikTok’s parent organization, ByteDance Ltd., acquired the famous video-sharing app, Musical.ly, in 2017. Then within a year, they integrated Musical.ly’s core functionality and user base with Duyin and unleashed the new combined app globally as TikTok.
Musical.ly was highly successful in the Americas and Europe with an estimated 100 million monthly active users, whereas TikTok was originally only prevalent in the Asian markets. It signified that the combination of the two did what it was ideally considered to do: dominate the world as the top video-sharing app and a social media platform.