This Investigation Revealed a Secret Spy Tool Tracking Billions of Phone Profiles

Global surveillance has ended up becoming an extremely pertinent issue in this modern day and age due to how easy advanced technology has made it. It turns out that hundreds of thousands of apps, some of which are quite popular such as Kik and 9gag, are part of a global surveillance network that involves the ad industry, and uses these ads to create user profiles that can track all sorts of private and personal information.

With all of that having been said and now out of the way, it is important to note that this mass monitoring tool is called Patternz, and it was discovered via an investigation conducted by 404 Media. The results of this investigation revealed that everyone from small ad agencies all the way to advertising powerhouses such as Google are involved in what has been going on, and this tool has turned people’s smartphones into tracking bracelets.

Anyone that uses Patternz can get alerts whenever a user arrives at a specific location, or even when they meet other people with all things having been considered and taken into account. All in all, Patternz processes an estimated 90 terabytes of data on a daily basis, and around 5 billion user ids have been scoured to create profiles that can be used for tracking purposes.

The investigation also showed the global reach of this surveillance campaign, and around 600,000 apps are involved in the matter at hand. What's more is that the CEO of the firm that created this tool, Rafi Ton, proudly revealed its clandestine capabilities in a now deleted YouTube video, including the ability to track users down to their most precise GPS coordinates.

As if that wasn't enough, this tool can also be used to push malware to unsuspecting victims, and it leverages a real time bidding mechanism for online advertising that offers specific data pertaining to various users. The demonstration showed that intelligence agencies can get all of the information that they are ever going to need simply through online ads, and since the tool works through the ad system, this means that Patternz does not need to get permission from developers before taking part in its secretive practices.

Such a trend is extremely dangerous because of the fact that this is the sort of thing that could potentially end up creating a level of surveillance that no one thought possible in the past. Patternz is also collaborating with the Israeli ad tech company Nuviad, which Ton also heads in the role of CEO, and as a result of this partnership, Google has suspended Nuviad’s authorized buyer profile. Microsoft has also followed suit by terminating Nuviad’s access to its ad platform called Xandr.

It bears mentioning that Google took its sweet time in taking action against the activities that Nuviad and Patternz were taking part in. A US senator has been raising concerns about them since 2021, yet Google didn’t block Nuviad from its authorized buyer account until 2023. This just goes to show how important it is for swift action to be taken, as well as the many secret networks that might be spying on our every move without our knowledge.

Photo: Digital Information World - AIgen

Read next: Meta Empowers Brands with Advanced Tools for Enhanced Online Reputation Management
Previous Post Next Post