Chat services like Whatsapp and Skype are created to bring friends and families closer who are living hundreds of miles away from their loved ones. But. All apps are not the same. Recently it was revealed that the service, provided by a particular app is nothing but a brilliantly created spying tool.

It was revealed that the messaging app, ToTok is believed to be a surveillance tool for the United Arab Emirates (UAE), said some unnamed US officials, reported the New York Times. They also mentioned that as per a classified intelligence report, UAE uses ToTok to follow users' conversations, track locations, find out the social connection details and look at the media.

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Smartphone apps Pixabay

ToTok popularity

It was revealed that most of the users of ToTok live in the UAE. But as reported this app has generated massive popularity somewhere else in the world. Officially developed by Breej Holding, this app is believed to be a cyberintelligence company run by UAE intelligence officials and former operatives from the NSA and Israeli military intelligence called DarkMatter.

The reports stated that ToTok is also linked to a data mining company, Pax AI, which has links to DarkMatter that operates from the same building as the UAE's signals intelligence agency as well as a place DarkMatter called home until recently.

Here, it should be mentioned that the app was introduced only a few months ago but downloaded millions of times from the Apple and Google app stores throughout the Middle East, Europe, Asia, Africa and North America.

Investigation of spy tool

FBI denied to comment but stressed that it wants users to be conscious of the "potential risks and vulnerabilities" such apps can pose. After the revelation about this spy tool, Google and Apple, both have removed the app from their store. Apple stated that their team was still researching the chat client while Google found the app to have violated its policies.

Even though there is no proper measure of how much damage it has caused to those users who downloaded this app, the row emphasizes the importance of using encrypted apps to keep outside intruders away. As per the experts, the development of this app showed that the governments can cut out the intermediary to spy directly on people, who voluntarily, if unwittingly, hand over their information.

How to protect from spying apps?

Follow these measures to avoid Android and iOS spyware apps:

  • Keep your phone with you, in your possession.
  • Use a strong password to lock the device. Do not use easier lock options such as a basic PIN or a pattern combination. Add a biometric lock where possible.
  • Consider your surroundings while unlocking and using your device.
  • Monitor your device for strange behaviour. Strange behaviour includes randomly waking, unexpected activity, increased network usage, unexpected network connections, and so on.
  • Monitor your bandwidth using a data monitoring app. Check the app for strange apps using data. It could be a spyware app sending data.