ToTok, a free messaging app which is fairly popular in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), is reportedly a government spying tool. A new report has emerged that reveals that the application is used by UAE intelligence officials spy on its citizens.
As per a report by The New York Times, the app is used to track every conversation, movement, relationship, appointment, sound and image of those users who have installed it. The report cites the company behind ToTok, Breej Holding, is most likely to be a front of a company affiliated with DarkMatter. The latter is Abu Dhabi-based cyberintelligence and hacking firm. The app is also linked to Pax Ai, which is a data-mining firm that appears to be tied to DarkMatter.
The Times notes that this is a new development in the history of digital spying. “There is a beauty in this approach,” security researcher Patrick Wardle, who conducted an independent forensic analysis of ToTok, told the Times. “You don’t need to hack people to spy on them if you can get people to willingly download this app to their phone. By uploading contacts, video chats, location, what more intelligence do you need?”
ToTok has introduced in UAE as a ‘fast, free and secure’ messaging application just like WhatsApp and Skype. The app gained a lot of popularity in the Middle East and beyond. The report highlights that recent Google Play rankings reveal that ToTok was among the top 50 free apps in Saudi Arabia, India, Britain, Sweden and more. The report further highlights that Google and Apple has removed the application from their respective app stores. This is quite shocking as to what extent an authoritarian government spy on people. This also raises some grave concerns about the privacy and security of people.