Cybersecurity chief raises concerns over TikTok use by Belgian officials

Cybersecurity chief raises concerns over TikTok use by Belgian officials
General Michel Van Strythem, who will head the Belgian army's Cyber Command unit. Credit: Eric Lalmand/Belga.

The Belgian Army's new head of cybersecurity General Michel Van Strythem has warned against Belgian officials using TikTok, Belga News Agency reports.

Van Strythem expressed fears over TikTok being used by officials to the Federal Parliament's National Defence Committee, where he was presenting the military's latest component Cyber Command, which he is leading.

Explaining how it would protect Belgium from cyber warfare, the general raised alarm bells regarding the use of the online app which is known for its short videos. The app is owned by its Chinese parent company ByteDance which aroused fears over the amount of data being collected by the Chinese State through the app.

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As pointed out by Van Strythem, the app not only lacks two-factor authentication but has also been unclear over the possible transmission of users' data, with Chinese law allowing for the country's authorities to access the app's database.

The general also reminded MPs that the Defence Ministry had already prohibited the app on any devices containing sensitive military data. Any use of the app has to be justified and approved by the military, Van Strythem added.

The Belgian cybersecurity chief's comments came on the same day that the European Parliament followed the Commission in banning the use of TikTok on professional devices, such as computers, cell phones or tablets from 20 March.

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