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TikTok Hackers Target Paris Hilton, CNN, and More. What to Know About the Cyberattack




Hackers have targeted several high-profile TikTok accounts, including that of reality TV star Paris Hilton, media company CNN, and Entertainment group Sony.

“Our security team is aware of a potential exploit targeting a number of high-profile accounts,” a TikTok spokesperson said in a statement shared with TIME. “We have taken measures to stop this attack and prevent it from happening in the future.”

Jason Grosse, a spokesperson for TikTok’s privacy and security team, elaborated further in a phone call with TIME. He shared that Hilton’s account was targeted but not compromised. However, CNN’s account was compromised as a result of the hack.

Grosse said that the app is working to get CNN’s account back up and running and safeguard the media company from further attacks through “enhanced security measures.”

Though Grosse said the app is not publicizing the exact number of accounts affected, he says their investigations indicate that the cyberattack is only targeting a small number of high-profile accounts, and standard (non high-profile) users will likely not be targeted.

Per Grosse, the attack specifically took place through direct messaging features, and is known as a “zero-day exploit.” A zero-day exploit refers to a cyberattack that takes advantage of unknown security flaws in software.

The U.S. government is already concerned with TikTok privacy and security issues, albeit more so in relation to its Chinese-owned parent company, ByteDance, and the possibility that it could share user data with China’s government. 

In April, President Joe Biden signed into law a bill that would ban TikTok in the U.S. if the social media platform’s China-based owner doesn’t sell its stake within a year. However, in May, TikTok fought back and sued the U.S. government over the ban, stating that it is unconstitutional. That same month, eight TikTok creators joined the app in filing suit over the ban, stating that they rely on TikTok to express themselves, learn, and find community.

In other TikTok-related news, former President Donald Trump recently decided to finally join the social media platform as the 2024 election campaign ramps up. The decision likely surprised many, as Trump famously tried to ban the app during his presidency. President Biden’s campaign also joined TikTok this February in an apparent attempt to connect with younger voters.