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Felix Krause, Founder of Fastlane which was acquired by Google, said that when the user opens any link on the TikTok iOS app, it’s opened inside their in-app browser.

Independent cyber security researcher Felix Krause has a warning for iPhone users about the banned Chinese app, TikTok. The short-form video app TikTok has been found tracking all keyboard inputs and taps via its in-app browser on Apple iOS devices (iPhones and iPads). Felix Krause is the founder of Fastlane, a security company that was acquired by Google. In a blog post, Krause said that when the user opens any link on TikTok’s iOS app, it opens inside their in-app browser.

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“While you are interacting with the website, TikTok subscribes to all keyboard inputs (including passwords, credit card information, etc.) and every tap on the screen, like which buttons and links you click,” Krause claimed in the blog post. TikTok on iOS subscribes to every keystroke (text inputs) happening on third-party websites rendered inside the TikTok app, he said. Explaining further, Krause shared the following details in the post:

  • TikTok iOS subscribes to every keystroke (text inputs) happening on third-party websites rendered inside the TikTok app. This can include passwords, credit card information, and other sensitive user data. (keypress and key down). We can’t know what TikTok uses the subscription for, but from a technical perspective, this is the equivalent of installing a keylogger on third-party websites.
  • TikTok iOS subscribes to every tap on any button, link, image, or another component on websites rendered inside the TikTok app.
  • TikTok iOS uses a JavaScript function to get details about the element the user clicked on, like an image.

What TikTok has to say

In a media statement, TikTok said, “Like other platforms, we use an in-app browser to provide an optimal user experience, but the Javascript code in question is used only for debugging, troubleshooting, and performance monitoring of that experience — like checking how quickly page loads or whether it crashes.” The statement confirms Krause’s claim that TikTok injects code into third-party websites through their in-app browsers that behave like a keylogger. However what TikTok is saying is that while it injects the code, it is not being used. So, it’s up to users to understand the dangers.

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