Maryland banned Tuesday the use TikTok by state agencies. This was in response to reporting from NBC News that hackers were involved in the theft of millions of Covid benefits by state governments.
The state announced the emergency directive by stating that the entities were “presenting an unacceptable level of cybersecurity risk for the state and may be involved with activities such as cyber-espionage and surveillance of government agencies and the inappropriate collection of sensitive personal data.”
Governor Larry Hogan stated that cyber vulnerabilities that are critical to our daily lives pose a greater threat than any other for our personal safety and national security. Republican Larry Hogan. “Maryland has taken bold, decisive steps to address cybersecurity threats. We are issuing this emergency directive to foreign actors and organisations that seeks to weaken or divide us in order further protect our systems.
The state’s chief security officer issued the directive to TikTok. ByteDance is based in China. Huawei and ZTE are both manufacturers of telecommunications technology. Alipay, China’s online retailer, and the messaging app WeChat. Kaspersky, Russia’s security software maker, also has headquarters in China. These products must be removed from the networks and prevented from being used by agencies.
A TikTok spokesperson stated that the bans were largely motivated by misinformation about TikTok. We are happy to meet with policymakers from the states to discuss our security and privacy practices. We regret that many state offices and agencies that used TikTok for building communities and connecting with constituents are no longer able to access our platform.
Kaspersky declined comment. Other companies didn’t immediately respond to our requests for comment.
Alipay and Alibaba have not commented on accusations that they are national security threats in the past. WeChat denies being a national security threat.
The directive was issued by state officials referring to both the statement of FBI Director Chris Wray that TikTok is a security risk and a NBC News report Mondaythat a hacking organization known as APT41 linked to the Chinese government stole at most $20 million in U.S. covid relief benefits including Small Business Administration money, unemployment insurance funds in more than a dozen states.
The first case of pandemic fraud involving foreign, state-sponsored cybercriminals is the theft of taxpayer funds. However, this may only be the tip of an iceberg according to U.S. law enforcement officials as well as cybersecurity experts.
The Biden administration stopped approvals for new telecommunications equipment by Huawei and ZTE last month due to an alleged threat to national security.
ZTE stated at that time that “At no point has the United States government identified any particular, addressable concerns regarding products ZTE sells to the United States or instances where ZTE products have been used in order to impair U.S security or consumer privacy.” Huawei declined comment.
In November, South Dakota also banned state agencies from using TikTok.