TikTok cyber attack targets ‘high-profile’ users

Paris Hilton and US news organisation CNN were both targeted in an attack via the app’s direct messaging system, TikTok said.

The video-sharing platform said it had moved in response to a ‘potential exploit’
The video-sharing platform said it had moved in response to a ‘potential exploit’ (Peter Byrne/PA)

TikTok has confirmed it has taken steps to stop a cyber attack targeting high-profile accounts, said to include those of Paris Hilton and news organisation CNN.

The video-sharing platform said it had moved in response to a “potential exploit” and had taken measures to “prevent it from happening in the future”, and was working with those affected to restore access to their account if needed.

On Tuesday night, TikTok told the Associated Press (AP) that the attack had taken place through its direct messaging (DM) feature, but did not share further details on how it was carried out.

A spokesperson for the social media giant told AP that its security team had been recently alerted to “malicious actors targeting CNN’s TikTok account” and the tech firm was working with CNN to restore access and add “enhanced security measures” to protect it.

TikTok said it was “dedicated to maintaining the integrity of the platform”, that it would “continue to monitor for any further inauthentic activity” and that it was still investigating the “potential exploit”.

The company did not name the other affected accounts, other than to note that the account of socialite and reality TV star Hilton was targeted but not compromised.

In a further statement to the PA news agency on Wednesday, a TikTok spokesperson said: “Our security team is aware of a potential exploit targeting a number of high-profile accounts.

“We have taken measures to stop this attack and prevent it from happening in the future.

“We’re working directly with affected account owners to restore access, if needed.”

TikTok, whose parent company is China-based ByteDance, is facing a ban in the US unless it is sold in the coming months, over fears for the security of users’ data because of the platform’s connection to China.

The app has been banned from Government devices in the UK over similar concerns.

But the app has still become a key battleground ahead of the elections in both the US and the UK, with Donald Trump joining the platform earlier this month – despite previously attempting to ban the app when US president – while both the Conservatives and Labour have taken to the platform regularly since the General Election was called for July 4.