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Maryland bans use of TikTok, other Chinese, Russian products by state agencies after NBC News report

The state of Maryland on Tuesday banned the usage of TikTok and different Chinese language and Russian merchandise by state companies, citing reporting by NBC Information about hackers linked to the Chinese language authorities stealing tens of millions in Covid advantages from state governments within the U.S.

In asserting the emergency directive, the state mentioned the entities “current an unacceptable degree of cybersecurity danger to the state, and could also be concerned in actions comparable to cyber-espionage, surveillance of presidency entities, and inappropriate assortment of delicate private data.”

“There could also be no higher risk to our private security and our nationwide safety than the cyber vulnerabilities that help our day by day lives,” mentioned Gov. Larry Hogan, a Republican. “Maryland has taken daring and decisive actions to arrange for and deal with cybersecurity threats. To additional shield our techniques, we’re issuing this emergency directive in opposition to international actors and organizations that search to weaken and divide us.”

The directive from the state’s chief data safety officer applies to the TikTok, whose father or mother firm, ByteDance, in based mostly in China; Huawei and ZTE, each makers of cellphones and telecommunications expertise; the on-line retail big Alibaba and fee platform Alipay; the message app WeChat; and Russia’s Kaspersky, which makes safety software program. Businesses are required to take away these merchandise from networks and forestall their use.

In an announcement, a TikTok spokesperson mentioned, “We imagine the considerations driving these bans are largely fueled by misinformation about our firm. We’re all the time joyful to fulfill with state policymakers to debate our privateness and safety practices. We’re disillusioned that the various state companies, places of work, and universities which have been utilizing TikTok to construct communities and join with constituents will now not have entry to our platform.”

Kaspersky declined to remark. The opposite corporations didn’t instantly reply to requests for remark.

Previously, Alibaba and Alipay have declined to remark about accusations of being nationwide safety dangers. WeChat has denied being a nationwide safety danger.

In issuing the directive, state officers referred to each FBI Director Chris Wray’s assertion that TikTok poses a safety risk, and an NBC Information report on Monday that, in response to the Secret Service, a hacking group often known as APT41 and linked to the Chinese language authorities stole at the very least $20 million in U.S. Covid reduction advantages, together with Small Enterprise Administration cash and unemployment insurance coverage funds in over a dozen states.

The theft of taxpayer funds is the primary occasion of pandemic fraud tied to international, state-sponsored cybercriminals that the U.S. authorities has acknowledged publicly, however could be the tip of the iceberg, say U.S. regulation enforcement officers and cybersecurity specialists.

Final month, the Biden administration banned approvals of recent telecommunications gear from Huawei and ZTE due to an alleged danger to nationwide safety.

At the moment, ZTE mentioned, “At no time has the US authorities recognized any particular, addressable considerations with regard to merchandise that ZTE sells in the US or situations by which ZTE merchandise have been used to impair both U.S. safety or shopper privateness.” Huawei declined to remark.

Additionally in November, the state of South Dakota banned the usage of TikTok by state companies.

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