Iowa cybersecurity expert weighs in on Tik Tok, internet privacy

As digital privacy and safety concerns continue over apps like Tik Tok, an Iowa cybersecurity expert weighs in on the matter.
Published: Aug. 6, 2020 at 7:22 PM CDT
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CORALVILLE, Iowa (KWQC) - As digital privacy and safety concerns continue over apps like Tik Tok, an Iowa cybersecurity expert weighs in on the matter. As many people spend more time online, he has tips and resources for everyone including parents and guardians.

Earlier this week President Trump announced that the popular entertainment app, Tik Tok, could be banned on September 15th due to security concerns unless another company purchases the application.

“I set a date of around September 15th at which point it’s gonna be out of business in the United States,” he said.

Aaron Warner, CEO of ProCircular, an Iowa-based cybersecurity company, said these concerns aren’t isolated.

“This isn’t unique to Tik Tok. Your iPhone collects information. Your Android collects information. So that kind of social media information is equal parts valuable and accessible,” he said.

He said that information can be used differently.

“Well, Tik Tok is similar to other companies that have foreign governments that want to look into information for national intelligence or for defensive reasons,” he said, “a lot of places like China will use information gathered from hacking and from tools like Tik Tok to pass sensitive information along to industry to help them be more competitive.”

“You’ve probably had, you know, that cabinet that you were looking up on Amazon or comparing follow you around the internet. So some of those data consolidators use that information to try and get you to sell or get you to purchase those products,” Warner said.

He also said there is no one federal law that covers privacy legislation

“This is really a data privacy issue. Even companies like Amazon and Google and Facebook are pushing hard for privacy legislation, because right now, every state kind of gets to make it up as they go along and every state is a little bit different,” he said.

Warner gave tips on ways you can navigate the internet safely. This includes updating your devices.

“It can make all the difference in the world about whether or not your computer is open and susceptible to cybersecurity challenges,” he said.

Another tip is limiting the number of apps you have on your device. Warner said less is better.

“You’ve probably seen you know somebody’s kid’s phone has 3000 little kid applications on them. That’s kind of inviting abuse of private information,” he said.

Warner also said backing up information and documents is important.

For parents and guardians, he recommended Qustudio, a free tool that allows parents and guardians to supervise their child’s internet use.

“You can talk to them about the importance of privacy and the importance of the things that you do online don’t disappear, he said, “that one selfie that you text out can come back to haunt you. Those are the kinds of conversations that people should be having with their kids and the earlier the better.”

Warner also recommends a tool called Privacy Badger, which blocks advertisers and third-party trackers.

Microsoft said it’s continuing discussions of the potential purchase of Tik Tok.

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