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In an exclusive interview with Finbold.com, Rachel Welch, Chief Operating Officer of Atlas VPN, a free VPN service provider, shares cold hard facts on why the previously planned TikTok ban has valid reasoning behind it.
In the end, Trump signed off on the TikTok deal with Oracle and Walmart to become a US-based company. If TikTok does become a US-based company, then the ban will not go through, but if the deal fails, the ban is set to take effect on September 27, 2020.
During the interview, Rachel talks about previous cybersecurity incidents with China, their state-sponsored attacks and the current state of cyberwarfare between the US and China.
Let’s get straight to the core of the issue — is the TikTok ban reasoned?
“The fact of the matter is that the TikTok ban controversy did not arise from a single security issue related to China, but from a history of cyber incidents involving Chinese state-sponsored attacks.
As many know, this is not the first time that a Chinese company with ties to the government was accused of invading US citizens’ privacy.
Due to many cyber incidents originating from China, a congressional advisory group has declared China “the single greatest risk to the security of American technologies”.
There are no actual facts that TikTok was stealing its users data, but there were some issues that started the investigation.”
In short, how did the investigation on TikTok start?
“US politicians’ concern over TikTok began with an investigation the Guardian published on September 25, 2019. This investigation revealed leaked data where TikTok was instructing its administrators to censor videos that mentioned sensitive topics to the Chinese government.
In early October of 2019, Senator in Florida Marco Rubio called for a formal investigation into whether TikTok threatens US national security. “These Chinese-owned apps are increasingly being used to censor content and silence open discussion on topics deemed sensitive by the Chinese Government and Community Party,” Rubio wrote in a letter addressed to US Department of Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin.
There are no specific details of the investigations, but one individual connected to the matter informed the New York Times that the US government found evidence that TikTok was sending US user data to China.
Finally, President Trump signed an executive order in August 2020, that labeled the video-sharing platform a national-security threat.”
How powerful is China’s cyber army?
“Back in 2010, Foreign Policy magazine provided an estimated range for China’s “hacker army” personnel, anywhere from 50,000 to 100,000 individuals. The study was carried out over 10 years ago, which means that the numbers should be significantly higher now.
What is more, in a bizarre document revealed in 2015, China finally officially admits it has special units dedicated to cyberwar — and a lot of them.”
What are the main targets of Chinese cybercriminals?
“China’s cyber threats are not only a concern for individual citizens but the whole US national security. For quite some time, China has been executing cyber attacks at a massive scale to steal sensitive military information.
Back in 2019, the Navy and its industry partners reported that they were “under cyber siege” by Chinese hackers. In recent years, Cybercriminals have stolen national security secrets, exploiting critical weaknesses that threaten the US’s standing as the world’s top military power, informs Navy cybersecurity readiness review.”
What are the big-picture consequences of Chinese cyberattacks?
“Since China is one of the main competitors to the US in so many areas, it should come as no surprise that Chinese hackers are targeting everything from individual US citizens to military and academic institutions full of valuable information about the newest technological innovations as well as the US military capabilities.
China is singled out as the biggest cybersecurity threat because its cyber-attacks are well-thought-over and aim to achieve strategic objectives. At the same time, they always remain below the threshold of actual armed conflict.
Even though the US Military is aware of the issue, they have already suffered and continue to suffer losses of significant data.
The biggest issue that the US military is currently facing is the fact the military is focused on preparing for some future kinetic military action. Meanwhile, they are losing the cyberwar, which, in the end, could lead to losing active warfare if things ever advance to this point.
I am laying down these facts for people to see the bigger picture and realize that the Chinese government is scoping out the US network from all possible angles. I believe that this is an entirely valid ban, taking into consideration the history of cybersecurity issues with China.”
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