Firechat app for Hong Kong protestors safety warning

By Alan Ng - Oct 2, 2014

Most of the world are gripped to the TV to find out what is going on in Hong Kong with regards to the Occupy Central movement, as protestors aim to get their views across with a silent sit-in.

In the meantime though, we have seen that this protest has in-turn caused a surge in the amount of Firechat app downloads for Android and iOS platforms. The main reason being, is that the app has the function of allowing for chats without the need for an internet connection.

The technology behind this is Bluetooth and allows Firechat users to connect to others who have the app installed. There’s even a group chat function which has support for up to 10,000 users at once and it is proving to be a useful tool for citizens of Hong Kong who want to keep in touch with each other ‘underground’ and away from the usual Cell phone operators in the country.

There is a word of warning though about the app. While we have seen around 100,000 downloads in the last 48 hours, there is a security risk as messages sent between devices are not encrypted.

The Tweet above is from San Francisco-based Open Garden, the developers of the app themselves, who advise users to not use their real names when chatting. This means that anyone using Firechat has access to recent messages sent by another user but more importantly, it also means that other users can impersonate others if they want to – obviously leading to potential issues.

As a result, those who are downloading app should use it with caution and be aware of the fact that messages are not encrypted. For spreading the Occupy Central with love and peace message though, it appears to be an essential tool according to users.

Have you already used this app on Android and iOS? If so, give us your impressions of it below.

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