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I am employed by a security agency that recently implemented a policy prohibiting the use of TikTok on work phones. Instead of carrying two phones, I decided to use MDM to separate my work and personal apps on my iPhone. However, I'm now wondering if TikTok on my personal side might somehow access the sensitive data on my work side. I know it sounds concerning given where I work, but I'm mainly interested in the technical details because I can't seem to find a clear answer.

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If your smartphone has a function for separate work and private/personal profiles, then they, most probably, are separate (unless there is some security vulnerability). A security agency would have taken all the relevant factors into account (hopefully?) and decided that giving you the access to install TikTok (or any other app, for that matter) on your private/personal account/profile is acceptable.

If the risks were unacceptable, the security agency could choose between two (2) options:

  1. Give you a work device that is completely managed by them.
  2. Use the MDM to block certain apps from your private/personal account/profile (it can be done).

Just from the fact that they allowed you to have both a work and a private/personal profile/account on the same device, I can, with high certainty, infer that the security agency does not concern itself, and/or your position doesn't not warrant, with top-secret level security.

In any case, unless there is a security vulnerability, the work and private/personal profiles/accounts should be completely separate and there must not be any information shared between them. I am not sure about Apple's iPhones, but Samsung has a list of devices that can be used for enterprise purposes, but I presume that Apple has a list of devices..

As an answer to your question: Yes, it is possible to access TikTok within the perimeter of the MDM, BUT ONLY if the MDM policy allows it. If the work and private/personal profiles/accounts are separate and the MDM policy only controls the work profile/account, there shouldn't be any issues, since no information is shared and the profiles/account are completely separate (unless there are security vulnerabilities).

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