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Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

TikTok patched multiple holes in its security at the end of 2019 that had left the video sharing app's accounts, videos and user information potentially exposed for most of the year, as detailed in a new report from cybersecurity research firm CheckPoint.

Why it matters: No personal data was found to be compromised, but this report provides some of the first in-depth details of security risks faced by TikTok — which is under the microscope as lawmakers criticize its Chinese ownership.

  • "We did prove that it was possible for a hacker to actually gain sensitive information," CheckPoint's Ekram Ahmed said, adding that the company has not yet found specific evidence of personal data breaches.

The big picture: TikTok's exposure depended on vulnerabilities in SMS text messaging that have confounded many other social media platforms and mobile services.

Details: CheckPoint found that attackers could delete a user's videos, create a video from a user's account, make private videos public, and scrape a user's sensitive information — like their email address, payment information or birthday.

  • TikTok implemented fixes for these issues within 30 days of CheckPoint alerting the app in late November, spokespeople for both companies told Axios.
“TikTok is committed to protecting user data. Like many organizations, we encourage responsible security researchers to privately disclose zero day vulnerabilities to us. Before public disclosure, CheckPoint agreed that all reported issues were patched in the latest version of our app. We hope that this successful resolution will encourage future collaboration with security researchers."
— Luke Deshotels, TikTok Security Team

Go deeper: TikTok's rise lands it in critics' crosshairs

Go deeper

Bryan Walsh, author of Future
Updated 9 mins ago - Health

Omicron travel bans are sign of what's to come

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

The travel bans and border closures prompted by the Omicron variant likely won't fully prevent its spread, but that won't stop countries from leaning on the measures.

Why it matters: The rapid speed at which countries turned to travel bans with the emergence of Omicron indicates border controls will increasingly become a weapon against infectious disease — whether or not public health experts agree they are effective.

29 mins ago - Politics & Policy

GOP fights itself on shutdown politics

Reporters question Senate Minority Whip John Thune before the Republican Party's weekly lunch on Tuesday. Photo: Kent Nishimura/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

GOP leaders on Capitol Hill are scrambling to reach a deal with a bloc of 15 Senate Republicans threatening a government shutdown to force a fight over the Biden administration's vaccine mandates.

Why it matters: The push to defund the mandates — by holding the short-term government funding bill hostageis largely symbolic, and highly controversial within the Republican Party. A shutdown as early as midnight Friday could trigger everything from national park closures to delays in receiving Social Security checks.

Stacey Abrams launches second campaign for Georgia governor

Photo: Eze Amos/Getty Images

Stacey Abrams, voting rights activist and former 2018 candidate for Georgia governor, is running for the position again in 2022. Abrams would be the first Black female governor in the country.

Why it matters: Abrams caught national attention in 2018 by narrowly losing an election to Republican Gov. Brian Kemp in a state held firmly by the GOP for nearly two decades.