Tech History

Reporting on the business of technology, startups, venture capital funding, and Silicon Valley.
ToTok app allegedly been working as a surveillance tool

A very popular messaging app that was currently running as the best alternative to WhatsApp in UAE is taken down from the Google play store and Apple store as it is allegedly working as a government surveillance tool. According to a report published by The New York Times, the app was working for UAE’s senior intelligence officers and it was keeping track of citizen’s whereabouts, conversations, and other personal records.

The app was launched at the beginning of this year and within no time gained massive popularity because of the partial banning of apps like Skype and WhatsApp all over UAE. According to the app’s developer, Totok offered a “very secure, fast, and free” calls and messaging experience to the users thus becomes the most downloaded app all over the UAE and US allies last week.

Though it’s been taken down from the biggest app stores the app hasn’t shut down itself which means this ToTok app is still available on the internet. FBI and government haven’t yet come forward with a statement but the Totok developers have published an open letter to the users on their official website saying:

“We equipped Totok with such high-security standards such as AES256, AES/SSL, RSA, and SHA256, to diligently protect the user data. We also implemented a privacy framework that complies with the local and international legal requirements to safeguard our users at all times.”

The security expert and analyzer for The Times Patrick Wardle said” you don’t need to hack people to spy on them if you can get people to willingly download this app on their phones. By uploading contacts, video chats, location what more intelligence you need?”

According to the report by the times, Breej Holding Ltd., the software company which generated this app is most likely to be a mascot for the UAE cybersecurity firm known as Dark Matter. The app is also claimed to link with another firm known as AX1 which performs Data-mining for Signal Intelligence agency (SIA) belonging to UAE.