TikTok Mobile App. Illustrative photo.
Prague – The National Office for Cyber and Information Security (NÚKIB) has issued a warning against the installation and use of the Chinese TikTok application on devices with access to systems belonging to critical information infrastructure and other important information systems. The ČTK office said that the application represents a security threat. The office and the general public are recommended to consider using the application and what people share through it.
“The amount of data collected and its handling, combined with the legal environment in China and the growing number of users in the Czech Republic, gives us no other option than to label TikTok as a security threat,” said director of NÚKIB Lukáš Kintr. Another reason for issuing the warning, according to the authority, is the legal and political environment in China, which is subject to the developer and operator of the application, the Beijing-based company ByteDance.
NÚKIB warns against installing and using TikTok on devices accessing critical information infrastructure systems, basic service information systems and important information systems. “I issued the warning based on a comprehensive analysis of information about the TikTok app that we obtained from both public sources and our allies,” Kintr said.
The warning is effective for persons liable under the Cyber Security Act from the moment it is posted on the NÚKIB official board. Appropriate measures must be taken by the relevant entities. NÚKIB assesses the threat as high. “NÚKIB recommends prohibiting the installation and use of the TikTok application on devices that have access to the regulated system as the easiest way to eliminate the mentioned threat as much as possible,” the authority said. He means both work and private devices used for work purposes.
“The warning does not distinguish between users from the state and private sectors. For me, the key is whether a threat to a specific system could have a negative impact on the functioning of the Czech Republic and the safety of each of us,” added Kintr. The office recommends to the general public to consider using the application and especially what people share through it. It then expressly recommends persons in high political, public or decision-making positions not to use the application.
NÚKIB, in a warning citing China's security and intelligence legislation, cites concerns that the interests of the Chinese state may be placed above the interests of users. It also reminds that the Security Information Service (BIS) in its annual report for 2021 identified China as a growing comprehensive intelligence threat.
According to NÚKIB, the application, for example, detects information about other installed applications. It uploads the content of private communication to ByteDance servers, regularly checks the location of the device and has access to contacts, information about the device, WiFi networks and the calendar. “The amount of data and the manner in which it is collected can serve to target cyber-attacks at specific individuals, thereby increasing the risk of their success,” the warning reads.
The Chinese social platform TikTok is based on the recording and publishing of short videos, which are mainly shared by teenagers. The app was recently banned from devices used for official purposes by some EU institutions due to concerns that TikTok could be used to promote Beijing or collect information about users. The White House last week ordered US federal authorities to have 30 days to remove TikTok from all government facilities. As of March 1, the Canadian government has started blocking TikTok on its devices.
Austrian: Domestically, there will be no TikTok on any technology intended for official purposes
The Ministry of the Interior will insist that the TikTok app his employees did not have any technology used for official purposes. Minister of the Interior Vít Rakušan (STAN) told journalists in the House of Representatives.
Rakušan said that he had studied the Cyber Office's warning and that the ministry would respond to it. He reminded that NÚKIB, in addition to the addressees of the Cyber Security Act, also called on the general public to consider using the application and what they share through it. “We sent similar information and instruction to the ministry earlier,” he said.
According to the Austrian, the ministry will insist that the Chinese social platform is not present on any service equipment and equipment intended for service purposes. “We have places at our force resort that professionally deal with whether employees use the entrusted equipment in accordance with all safety criteria,” he said.