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ToTok is an app that’s been downloaded over a million times – Turns out it’s a secret spy tool

Imagine that, another app with privacy issues.

totok app on iphone
Image: KnowTechie

It’s common to hear about a new app that suddenly surges in popularity only for it to be rather unscrupulous. This week its an app named ToTok and, as reported by The New York Times, it is being used as a spying tool for the benefit of United Arab Emirates intelligence officers.

There is a ban on messaging apps such as Skype and WhatsApp in certain countries in the Middle East. But, the appeal of ToTok is that it is available for download in those countries and more, including the United States and China. In fact, NYT reports that China was featuring ToTok in TV commercials.

But, that appeal is going to change real quick as the report becomes more well-known.

Reports reveal ToTok, a newly popular messaging app, is a spying aid for the UAE

Abrupt is a good way to describe ToTok, as it seemingly appeared without any hype by a completely unknown company. Taking a closer look at the app specifications, researchers have found that it was easy to create. The app also has similar characteristics to other apps that track user locations. Instead of selling location data to third-party advertisers, it all goes to the United Arab Emirates government. Which doesn’t take an expert to know how unbelievably intrusive this is.

Patrick Wardle, a former NSA officer, is noting how uncomplicated it is to spy on large populations through an easily downloadable app.

There is a beauty in this approach. 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?

It should be noted that Breej Holding, ToTok’s manufacturer, is allegedly a part of DarkMatter, an infamous cybersecurity company that conducts hacking jobs for the Emirati government.

In the United States, ToTok is no longer accessible on both the Play Store and App Store.

What do you think? Is this surprising to you? Let us know down below in the comments or carry the discussion over to our Twitter or Facebook.

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