Application security

Managing security in the spotlight: TikTok’s CSO Roland Cloutier to kick off InfoSec World

The TikTok logo is displayed outside a TikTok office on August 27, 2020 in Culver City, California. The Chinese-owned company is reportedly set to announce the sale of U.S. operations of its popular social media app in the coming weeks following threats of a shutdown by the Trump administration. (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)

The opening keynote for InfoSec World 2021 will feature Roland Cloutier, chief security officer of TikTok, who will share specific strategies to gain and maintain consumer trust – particularly following security issues and political turmoil.

Cloutier was previously chief security officer at leading payroll services company ADP. He joined TikTok, the world’s most popular app with some 1 billion downloads annually, when the company came under scrutiny in the United States over security and data privacy issues that emerged with the discovery of vulnerabilities within the app, as well as concerns about ties between Chinese parent ByteDance and the Chinese government. In the words of leadership at the time, the addition of Cloutier contributed to the company's "ability to earn the trust of the broader community by delivering world-class security systems, processes and policies.”

Indeed, the situation became extremely political: the U.S. Navy banned the use of the application for its personnel, and the U.S. Army banned TikTok from use on government phones, reversing its policy on the entertainment app, which it had previously used as a recruiting tool. The Trump administration flip flopped its position over a planned partnership between Oracle and Culver City, California-based TikTok, threatening prohibitions on transactions related to the video-sharing platform. Ultimately that partnership went through.

More recently, TikTok agreed to pay $92 million to settle dozens of lawsuits alleging that the popular video-sharing app harvested personal data from users, including information using facial recognition technology, without consent and shared the data with third-parties, some of which were based in China.

Cloutier, who after joining the company dismissed the notion that TikTok shared any data with governments, was left with a significant challenge: overcome technological hurdles, while also regaining the trust of users. He will speak at InfoSec World to "Managing Security in the Spotlight," detailing strategic actions taken to overcome the hurdles, including security improvements and a reinforced commitment to transparency. Among the efforts: the Transparency at TikTok campaign, which chronicles the planned steps to keep the platform safe, invites guests to review available source codes, algorithms, and moderation policies highlight TikTok’s new community guidelines and transparency reports. In this fireside chat, Cloutier will give an exclusive look into TikTok's security and privacy journey, how the trends they are seeing translate across the industry, 

TikTok is mainly used by teenagers to create short music clips, mostly lip-sync clips of 3 to 15 seconds, and short looping videos of 3 to 60 seconds. The application lets young people share, save and keep private videos of themselves and their friends and loved ones.

Before joining ByteDance and TikTok in 2020, Cloutier spent about 10 year at ADP. Prior to ADP, he was CSO at data storage vendor EMC (now owned by Dell). Cloutier started his career with over a decade of service to the U.S. Air Force and Department of Veterans Affairs. In 2015, he authored and published a business book, “Becoming a Global Chief Security Executive Office.”

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