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There was a TikTok Android app exploit that let hackers hijack accounts with one click

Hand of man holding mobile phone opening Tik Tok application, in shopping mall.
(Image credit: Photo by Olivier Bergeron on Unsplash )
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Don't freak out, it's long resolved now, but Android users should really think twice before clicking any links in the TikTok app after security flaws were found that made it ridiculously easy to steal others accounts with a simple link. While it's been addressed for now, it's always good internet security advice to not go clicking unknown links. And with an exploit this simple it's a good reminder to be ever vigilant out there.

According to BleepingComputer, (opens in new tab) Microsoft reported the flaw to TikTok back in February but, given the potential severity, it's not too surprising we aren't hearing about it until now. With a well crafted malicious link, reportedly more than 70 JavaScript methods could be used to get access to the app's webview, only used by the Android app. 

From there, those with malicious intent can wreak all sorts of havoc on the users' account. They can modify and view basically all the data, including profile settings and private videos. Due to the ability to perform authenticated requests through the webview, it's by no means a stretch to say they could completely take over the account.

"Attackers could have leveraged the vulnerability to hijack an account without users' awareness if a targeted user simply clicked a specially crafted link," Microsoft 365 Defender Research Team (opens in new tab)'s Dimitrios Valsamaras said, adding: "Attackers could have then accessed and modified users' TikTok profiles and sensitive information, such as by publicizing private videos, sending messages, and uploading videos on behalf of users."

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The surprising, yet good news is it seems the flaw doesn't seem to have actually been exploited while active, which is exactly why it was likely kept under wraps until it was fixed. And it does look like TikTok has fixed the issue, in between trying to get into games (opens in new tab).

Microsoft's investigations didn't find evidence of an attack using the link exploits, so hopefully it wasn't discovered by bad actors at the time. Though given TikTok's youthful audience, it could just be that not clicking weirdo links online has finally become common sense.

TikTok, like all apps, is by no means a flawless example of security and it's always wise to keep your wits about you on the internet. Keep not clicking those links while you enjoy your crazy dancing, angry emus, and huskies singing along to saxophones (opens in new tab)

Hope Corrigan
Hardware Writer

Hope’s been writing about games for about a decade, starting out way back when on the Australian Nintendo fan site Vooks.net. Since then, she’s talked far too much about games and tech for publications such as Techlife, Byteside, IGN, and GameSpot. Of course there’s also here at PC Gamer, where she gets to indulge her inner hardware nerd with news and reviews. You can usually find Hope fawning over some art, tech, or likely a wonderful combination of them both and where relevant she’ll share them with you here. When she’s not writing about the amazing creations of others, she’s working on what she hopes will one day be her own. You can find her fictional chill out ambient far future sci-fi radio show/album/listening experience podcast (opens in new tab) right here.

No, she’s not kidding.