China's Huawei endorsed an Emirati messaging app that reportedly tracked messages and photos sent by its millions of users
- Chinese telecommunications giant Huawei endorsed an Emirati messaging app downloaded by millions of users that was reportedly being used by the United Arab Emirates government to track the conversations, movements, relationships, appointments, and pictures of users.
- According to a New York Times investigation, the firm that owns Totok, Breej Holding, is likely a cover for a company affiliated with Abu Dhabi-based hacking group DarkMatter.
- The Times added that DarkMatter is currently under FBI investigation for possible cybercrimes.
- Recent advertisements put out by Huawei endorsed the app as "free, fast and secure."
- Visit Business Insider's home page for more stories.
Chinese telecommunications giant Huawei endorsed an Emirati messaging app downloaded by millions of users that was reportedly being used by the United Arab Emirates government to track user's conversations, movements, relationships, appointments, and pictures.
American officials familiar with a classified intelligence assessment, along with a New York Times investigation, claimed that popular mobile app ToTok is actually an Emirati spying tool. The app was introduced in recent months and has been downloaded millions of times from the Apple and Google play store, the report said.
According to The Times, majority of the app's users are Emirati, though it was also downloaded throughout the Middle East, Europe, Asia, Africa and North America.
Similar messaging apps, like WhatsApp and Skype, are banned in the UAE, making ToTok a popular choice for those looking to bypass the country's strict digital security rules.
According to The Times, which compiled its investigation into the app using technical analysis and interviews with computer security experts, the firm that owns Totok, Breej Holding, is likely a cover for a company affiliated with Abu Dhabi-based hacking group DarkMatter. The Times added that DarkMatter is currently under FBI investigation for possible cybercrimes.
Spokespersons for the CIA and the Emirati government declined to comment to The Times on its investigation.
Recent advertisements put out by Huawei endorsed the app as "free, fast and secure."
An editor's review on Huawei's app gallery calls the app "new, simple, fast and fun messenger with encrypted messaging and video calling."
Huawei did not immediately respond to Business Insider's request for comment.
On Thursday, Google removed the app from its Play store, according to The Times, saying that ToTok violated unspecified policies, while Apple removed ToTok from its App Store on Friday.
Huawei's endorsement of the app comes at a time when Huawei's security has been called into question.
The US has heightened concerns in recent months that Huawei technology could pose a national security risk and may be used as a backdoor for Chinese government espionage.
The US Department of Commerce added Huawei to a trade blacklist in May, which prevented the company from buying important parts and components from American companies without US government approval.
The US extended its grace period for Huawei that would allow it to buy parts from US companies for an extra 90 days in November.
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