TikTok reportedly suffers data breach

A finger about to press the TikTok logo in the dark
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TikTok has reportedly suffered a data breach which includes 790GB of user information, although the claims have been found to be inconclusive.

The video platform’s users have been recommended to change their password and enable two-factor authentication by BeeHive CyberSecurity, the researchers who discovered the leak.

Researchers have shared screenshots of the files on Twitter, which include “record_paypal_order” or “tiktok_author_stats”. One researcher, AgainstTheWest, found that the company stored all its internal backend source code on one Alibaba Cloud instance using a weak password.

The researcher also claimed to have discovered 790GB of user information tables from the database, with current user entries at 2.05 billion, they revealed on a database forum.

“Considering the entries are from all over the world, it is unlikely we will sell or release this,” posted AgainstTheWest. “Lastly, this data contains a lot of under-aged people. Releasing such information, along with the data that is being stored without the user's knowledge is so dire that we think it could spark something dangerous.”

However, web security consultant Troy Hunt inspected some of the files and found that it was all publicly accessible data so could have been constructed without a data breach

“This is so far pretty inconclusive; some data matches production info, albeit publicly accessible info,” Hunt wrote on Twitter. “Some data is junk, but it could be non-production or test data. It's a bit of a mixed bag so far.”

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“TikTok prioritizes the privacy and security of our users’ data," a TikTok spokesperson told IT Pro. "Our security team investigated these claims and found no evidence of a security breach."

This comes after the head of the FCC called on Apple and Google to remove the platform from their app stores over its pattern of surreptitious data practices in June 2022. Commissioner Brendan Carr said that TikTok is available to millions of US citizens and it collects vast troves of sensitive data about them. He underlined that its own by ByteDance, which is “beholden” to the Communist Party of China and required to comply with the government’s surveillance demands.

Zach Marzouk

Zach Marzouk is a former ITPro, CloudPro, and ChannelPro staff writer, covering topics like security, privacy, worker rights, and startups, primarily in the Asia Pacific and the US regions. Zach joined ITPro in 2017 where he was introduced to the world of B2B technology as a junior staff writer, before he returned to Argentina in 2018, working in communications and as a copywriter. In 2021, he made his way back to ITPro as a staff writer during the pandemic, before joining the world of freelance in 2022.