During the pandemic, TikTok was one of the apps that got an incomparable boost. Even though it was there before Covid, it didn’t have many users as now, around 800 million.

On this most controversial social media app which was supposed to be banned by Trump, you can create and share 15 to 20 seconds videos with your followers for those who don’t know. Ever since TikTok became famous, other social media apps have embarked on providing their user base with similar features. For instance, Instagram recently launched its “Instagram reels”, where you can post videos and run them on repeat, like TikTok. That being said, it is equally vulnerable as other platforms. This guide will discuss TikTok vulnerabilities and how to hack a TikTok account. So let’s get started.

5 Vulnerabilities: How to hack a TikTok account?

Since we have already told you about TikTok’s vulnerability, below, we have discussed in detail what exactly are those weak points and how someone can hack your TikTok account.

  1. Cross-site scripting (XSS)
  2. Phishing attacks
  3. Remote Keyloggers
  4. Zero-day vulnerabilities
  5. Weak Passwords

Cross-site scripting (XSS)

Cross-site scripting, according to MalCare, is a  “vulnerability that allows unauthorized JavaScript code to be executed on a website”. Basically, there are two kinds of XSS, stored and reflected. The latter is considered less threatening than the first one as it “is a one-time attack where the payload sent in a reflected XSS attack is only valid on that one request” says ScienceDirect. Anyone who “clicks the link that contains the malicious script will be the only person directly affected by this attack”. Here‘s an example of an XSS attack for a better understanding.

In 2020, Muhammed Taskiran, a Security researcher, discovered a vulnerability “to a URL parameter on the tiktok.com domain which was not properly sanitized” (zdnet). While fuzz testing the app, “ he found that this issue could be exploited to achieve reflected cross-site scripting, potentially leading to the execution of malicious code in a user’s browser session”.

So how exactly does it pose a threat for a TikTok user? If attackers successfully execute malicious code into a user’s web browser session, they get access to the user’s session and could hijack it or do whatever they want. Moreover, they can record the user’s activities by redirecting them to malicious websites. In fact, once they have hijacked a user’s TikTok, they can make them download malicious files onto their systems.

How to prevent XSS attacks?

To protect your TikTok account from such attacks, users should practice data sanitization across the platform’s domain to ensure only relevant variables are installed.

Phishing attacks

Phishing attacks are common for other platforms as well. On TikTok, it occurs when someone sends a malicious, attacking email to users to make them believe as it is from TikTok. The email content could be compelling so that users can fall into the trap and provide their credentials. The email could be like, “your account has been compromised and requires your credentials to help get your account back”. This is how an attacker can manipulate you into giving away your important information.

In 2019, a TikTok vulnerability enabled hackers “to use a link in TikTok’s messaging system to send users messages that appeared to come from TikTok” stated NY Times. Once the user clicks the link, they lose control of their account to hackers. Then they can do whatever they wish to do with that account, even a criminal activity that could cost users their lives. They have complete control of users’ pictures, post private videos, etc.

How to prevent Phishing attacks

In order to prevent yourself from phishing attacks, it is crucial to learn the basics of it so that whenever such kind of attack happens, you know what to do. Following is how you can fend off a phishing attack.

  • Never click on the links or attachments sent through suspicious emails.
  • Never enter your credentials from a pop-up menu. Remember, authentic websites never ask users to enter their credentials or important information.
  • Carefully read the email to check spelling errors in the content.

Remote Keyloggers

When a hacker or an attacker monitors your account by getting remote access to it via software, it is called remote keyloggers. Such attacks usually happen on laptops and cell phones as an attacker must access your device to download malicious software that monitors and records the user activities on the device. That means, if a user logs in to their email, social accounts or bank accounts, their passwords get recorded and provided to hackers who then hack all the other accounts.

How to prevent Remote Keyloggers attack?

  • Do not go for third party keyboard apps.
  • Never open any attachments or files you received via a suspicious email, as remote keyloggers can be embedded in them.
  • Install anti-spyware software to detect software based keyloggers.

Zero-day vulnerability

Zero-day vulnerabilities are relatively new flaws that software vendors might be aware of, but no solution has been introduced yet to fix that. As a result, it has provided a gateway for hackers to attack users’ information. For instance, if a hacker detects vulnerability on TikTok’s database or source code, they can leak all the information of the targeted user.

How to prevent attacks due to Zero-day vulnerabilities?

Unfortunately, there is no such clear cut solution to prevent yourself from Zero-day vulnerabilities. However, you can take extra precautions to stop hackers from hacking your accounts.

  • Make sure you timely update your TikTok app.
  • Set Two-factor authentication.

Weak Passwords

Another technique that hackers use to hack someone’s TikTok account is by guessing their passwords, as people tend to use their nicknames, phone numbers or partner’s name for their account passwords. However, if the password is complex, the hacker attempts a brute force attack to break into the user’s account.

How to prevent such an attack?

Build a strong password for your account that includes symbols, numbers, uppercase, and lowercase. Do not keep the same password for all your social accounts. Make a unique and strong password for TikTok to prevent such TikTok hacker attacks. Doing so would reduce the risk of your profile getting hacked. Also, you can check out this website, HaveIBeenPwned as it would help you identify whether your account and its passwords are saved and haven’t leaked out.

Check if your account has been logged in on other devices

Another common reason social media accounts get easily hacked is when you use other people’s devices to log in to your social accounts. By doing so, your passwords get saved on their devices (if they have turned on the save passwords option). If that happens, the other person can access your account.

How to prevent it?

Head to the “Devices” section in your application. A list will appear with the device’s name from which your account had been logged in. if you spot a suspicious device, it’s an alarming sign. Head straight to “Manage My Account”, and tap “Security” after scrolling down a bit. Check your account’s activity. If you find something unusual, change your password and get yourself logged out of all the other devices.

Tip: If you find suspicious activities on your account, delete your videos and save them on your device.

Final Word on TikTok Hacks

This is how easily attackers can hack your accounts. Unfortunately, this is not just the case with the TikTok app. Most social media apps are vulnerable to such threats. A small negligence can cost you your privacy and money, in the worst-case scenarios.

Since hackers always try new techniques for which you could not find solutions easily, you must stay cautious at all times and change your passwords every three months. Do everything in your power to ensure your accounts’ safety.