Blocking TikTok with one click: Protecting Your Privacy and Security with Ease
1. TikTok again?
We talked about how to block browsing the much-discussed social network TikTok in this article, and here about domains TikTok, but we want to continue to explore the topic further given the wide interest on the issue that continues to spread.
Every IT manager should have a sufficient overview of knowledge on this topic to be able to make the best decisions for their organization.
2. FBI also talks about blocking TikTok
TikTok has become a ubiquitous name in recent times, dominating news headlines with discussions about its users, content, and the mounting concerns surrounding privacy and security.
While TikTok has undeniably woven itself into our personal, political, and professional lives, it may not be as innocuous as it seems. In fact, there are legitimate reasons to believe that TikTok poses a threat to national security.
The FBI has recently issued statements expressing concerns about TikTok’s potential risks to national security, prompting 32 states in the United States to ban the app on government devices.
President Biden has even raised the possibility of a nationwide ban unless TikTok’s parent company, ByteDance, sells the app. This raises the question: Why is TikTok considered a security threat?
3. Why is TikTok considered a security threat?
ByteDance is a Chinese internet company, and in 2017, China implemented the National Intelligence Law, which mandates companies to surrender any data that could be deemed relevant to national security.
While there is currently no concrete evidence of TikTok handing over user data to the Chinese government, the app’s extensive user base of 100 million Americans leaves open the potential for China to access personal data.
Additionally, in December 2022, security concerns escalated when ByteDance terminated four employees who had inappropriately accessed personal data, including IP addresses, of two journalists.
4. But what about companies? Should they be concerned about TikTok?
At Flashstart, security is our top priority, so we conducted a thorough investigation into TikTok-related activities on our networks. The results were both surprising and predictable. However, it’s important to note that our data represents a snapshot of internet trends based on over 26 million monthly users.
Following the announcement and subsequent ban of TikTok on government devices, we observed a staggering, 1020% increase in the total number of blocked DNS queries related to TikTok.
Interestingly, this surge in blocked queries did not coincide with a corresponding increase in TikTok traffic. This indicates that organizations are proactively blocking TikTok on their networks.
5. Blocked TikTok DNS queries
Although the number of blocked TikTok DNS queries started to decrease on March 30, 2023, the total blocked traffic remains elevated by 217% compared to pre-January levels.
Upon analyzing the domain data, we also noticed a significant 650% rise in malicious TikTok activity, specifically in domains that include “Tiktok” in their names. While we cannot pinpoint the exact cause of this increase, it serves as a clear example of the inherent risks associated with TikTok.
It also highlights how threat actors exploit TikTok’s continuous media presence, making internet users more susceptible to phishing attempts related to the platform.
Our CEO, Collini Francesco, has been closely monitoring TikTok for the past two years and has voiced his thoughts on the recent calls for ByteDance to sell the app:
“The substantial increase in blocked traffic vividly illustrates the national security risks associated with this popular social media app. These concerns align with the Biden Administration’s warnings and their insistence on ByteDance divesting TikTok or facing potential prohibition. While similar risks exist with other platforms and vendors, most do not collect such extensive personal information from their users.
Moreover, they are typically not based in adversarial nations, particularly ones like China, where the State exercises significant control over all corporate operations.”
6. Blocking TikTok with Just One Click
Given the recent surge in domain activity and the growing awareness of TikTok’s security risks, the Flashstart team has worked diligently to include TikTok as the 84th app in our application blocking feature, AppAware.
Numerous organizations have already taken proactive steps by manually adding TikTok domains to their Flashstart block policies, as evidenced by the data mentioned above. Now, instead of managing cumbersome block lists for the vast number of TikTok domains and subdomains, you can block the entire app effortlessly with just one click.
7. Valuable insights
AppAware empowers you with valuable insights into the specific apps accessed by your users, including TikTok. While comprehensive query data remains available to you, AppAware’s reporting streamlines your view of DNS data by consolidating all TikTok domains under a single “application” category.
By blocking TikTok with ease, you can protect your organization’s privacy and security while ensuring a more seamless and efficient network experience.
You can activate the FlashStart® Cloud protection on any sort of Router and Firewall to secure desktop and mobile devices and IoT devices on local networks.