FireChat is an app that relies on Bluetooth and WiFi Direct to connect to their phones even when there is no internet and then allow people to talk.



HIGHLIGHTS
  • FireChat uses Bluetooth and Wi-Fi Direct to create a network between available phones in an area.
  • This is the reason why it doesn’t require internet to work.
  • In areas with blocked internet, some people use FireChat to communicate.

How can you communicate when internet is blocked, something that is happening with alarming regularity in India nowadays? There aren't many good options. But if you aim to communicate while you are out in a group, for example if you are at a cricket stadium watching a match with friends and want to talk to each other even if there is no internet, you can use FireChat. This is a chat app that works without internet, something that has also made it fairly popular with protesters who seemingly rely on it to talk to each other even when authorities have blocked internet.
FireChat is a peer-to-peer chat app - in other words messages sent through it hop from one phone to other - and it uses technologies like Bluetooth and Wi-Fi Direct (peer-to-peer Wi-Fi). This is the reason why the app has found favours with protesters in Iraq, Ecuador, Spain and even in some protests in Indian cities. It has been created by a company called Open Garden. The app is available for the iPhone as well as Android phones.
How does Firechat work? The idea is quite simple:
- FireChat uses Wi-Fi Direct or Bluetooth to create a mesh network, a network that grows in coverage area the more people are using it. For example, if there are 100 people using FireChat in a close area - say a stadium - these 100 people can exchange messages if they are sitting close to each other. What this means is that if Person 99 is sitting 300 meters away from you, out of your phone's Bluetooth coverage area, you can still send a message to him or her because there will be 98 other FireChat users between you and that person, and the message will jump from one phone to other.
- Th range for two smartphone users to talk to each other is around 200 feet.
- Here is how FireChat describes itself: "FireChat works even without an Internet connection or cellular phone coverage. Use it anywhere: planes, public transportation, cruise ships, campuses, and crowded events. All you need is a few people around you using FireChat."
-FireChat allows sending of messages and pictures, including private messages that the app says are peer-to-peer encrypted.
- FireChat uses allows users to create chat rooms, private as well as public.
- If and when internet is available, FireChat works like a regular chat app.
- To use FireChat you must install it on a phone and create a FireChat account.
While the app sounds useful, and it indeed offers useful means of communication, it has limits. The biggest limit is that the app works well in close spaces such as a stadium, or a place where a lot of people have gathered. This is because to create its mesh network, it needs phone users and those phone users must have FireChat installed as well as have their Wi-Fi Direct and Bluetooth working.
FireChat is not a substitute for a regular internet-based application like WhatsApp, and it is definitely not as reliable as a regular chat app. It is also not as secure because it is using technologies - Bluetooth - that by their nature are open technologies. For example, if you can join the mesh network created by FireChat, so can others. In 2014, FireChat developer told Wired website, "People need to understand that this is not a tool to communicate anything that would put them in a harmful situation if it were to be discovered by somebody who's hostile ... It was not meant for secure or private communications."
But may be when the choice is between a total communication blackout because network is saturated or not available and a not-so-secure messaging, it's easy to see the choice people will make. That seems to be the value of FireChat.
When Linux first emerged from its cocoon in a frenzied Usenet thread, it is doubtful that almost anyone imagined the project would ascend to global prominence.

Even more astonishingly, its dominance was driven as much, if not more, by its adoption by the private sector -- although it posed an antithesis to its business model -- as by any of its other notable traits.

It is precisely because its road from obscure curiosity to corporate mainstay was so unlikely that it pays to appreciate how Linux got to where it is today. Here's a look at how far Linux has come over its 28-plus years -- and at the tech titans that helped it get there.


In the Beginning Was the Kernel

On the off chance that anyone reading an in-depth column on Linux doesn't know much about its genesis, following is a brief review.

In the early 1990s, Finnish university student Linus Torvalds set out to create a clone of a pedagogical Unix-like system called "MINIX."

What started out as a modest effort to pursue his educational goals quickly attracted the attention of the denizens of Usenet, an early Internet forum. They were not only excited to get their hands on Torvalds' creation, but also were eager to pitch in and make it work for the widest community of users possible.

That's when Torvalds threw open the doors -- with trusted lieutenants standing in front of them as bouncers -- to community code contributions. When the GNU project, which was woefully behind in its work on the Hurd kernel, saw Linux burst onto the scene, the two projects soon entered a symbiotic relationship.

As anyone who has had any amount of experience with Linux knows, the Linux kernel development team (across all of its continuity) doesn't produce installation-ready operating systems.

Rather, these systems spring up from the pluralistic ecosystem of Linux distributions. This ecosystem did not materialize overnight, but although the maturation and proliferation of distributions took time, Linux uptake by the private sector kept pace as the ecosystem became more dynamic.

Business as Unusual

Though the birth of Torvalds' brainchild certainly marked a milestone in software development, players in the commercial tech sector were no strangers to advances and knew what sort of development models suited their objectives. If the established tech companies had their preferences, why did they even pay Linux any mind in the first place?

There were a couple of architectural and logistical points in Linux's favor that eventually piqued the interest of the more daring tech companies.

To start with, the fact that Linux had a devoted community of users constantly writing new kernel modules for whatever hardware they wanted it to run on meant that Linux held the potential to embrace a wide spectrum of devices.

This rapid expansion of compatibility was even further catalyzed by the kernel's open development model: If a company's developers wrote a kernel module for their preferred hardware, they could submit it to the Linux kernel project itself and, if accepted, count on further assistance from the community and the lead developers.

In other words, the open source nature of Linux meant that components that otherwise would languish in a small development team could tap into the dedicated work of the crowd for further refinement.

Another crucial factor for Linux's ultimate success was the debut of what arguably was its first killer app, the Apache Web server. From the beginning, Linux could bring solid Unix-style tools to bear in the form of the constellation of GNU Project tools -- from the GNU C Compiler (GCC) to the GRUB bootloader to even the Bash shell, to name only a (very) few.

To be sure, these could get Linux users with a sufficient degree of aplomb pretty far on their own, but Linux could not yet boast many specialized applications.

That all changed when the Apache Web server came out. Released under a license similarly liberal as the one governing Linux and GNU, Apache could be downloaded easily, configured, and run on Linux to host dependable sites on the burgeoning World Wide Web.

Users who formerly had to consider purchasing costly Web server software had a free, high-quality alternative, dramatically lowering the barriers for them to prop up a website and unleash their creativity. This definitely benefited hobbyists greatly, but it also provided private tech companies with a viable avenue to avoid licensing products from competitors.

In fact, it was the desire to outflank competing companies that paved the way for Linux's most profitable gambit. IBM, shrewdly, did not want to miss out on the chance to provide services on the ebullient Web of the late 90s. However, there initially was no easy route to the Web that did not go through its entrenched competition -- namely Netscape.

Apache's arrival was an incomparable stroke of luck for IBM, as it let the company establish a presence on the Web for next to no cost.

As a thank you, IBM invested a portion of the savings into open source software development. The company's embrace of open source did not stop there, though: When IBM sought an operating system to showcase its hardware, it once again declined to license expensive software from a competitor and turned to the Linux distribution we now know as "Red Hat."

IBM has supported the growth of Linux ever since, investing substantial sums into Linux development and even going so far as to outright acquire Red Hat earlier this year.

It's hard to say whether IBM would have maintained its lofty perch as a powerhouse of technological innovation had it not placed its faith in Linux and open source software generally, but its purchase of Red Hat undoubtedly is a sign of IBM's enduring confidence in Linux.

Open Source Closes Deals

One can make a convincing case that IBM vindicated Linux's commercial viability, but it was by no means the last company to make Linux a key part of its business. Quite to the contrary, Linux has enjoyed even more and deeper integration into the work of private companies that previously produced proprietary software exclusively.

There is probably no more illustrative example of this than Android. Free or open source software purists sometimes take issue with how "open" Google's end product actually is, but Android is still an incredible boon to Linux on the whole.

It ensures that Linux receives continued monetary support from Google, and it has been indispensable in extending Linux's global reach. Today Android is the most prevalent mobile OS in the world.

It also proved to consumers, who may not appreciate how pervasive Linux servers are on the Internet, that Linux stands on equal footing with any other operating system, whether server, desktop or mobile in nature.

Linux also looms large in the realm of Internet of Things (IoT) devices, the bevy of networked appliances that have erupted onto both the enterprise and consumer markets. The vast majority of IoT devices are not manufactured by tech sector stalwarts, and manufacturers looking to break into the IoT market generally don't have the capital to license a commercial OS at scale.

Here, too, Linux made for a snug fit between its unbeatable price point and its versatile hardware support. Truly, few other kernels or OSes could run on devices that run the gamut from thermostats to smart home assistants to industrial sensors without breaking a sweat.

Granted, IoT doesn't have a great reputation for security, as this class of devices has an outsized tendency to make up botnets like Mirai. I know as well as anyone that IoT security has a long way to go, but Linux's dedicated community, ample support from large tech companies, and mammoth presence afford the industry the tools to meet the challenges IoT faces.

The trending of information security and cloud computing practices toward virtualized containers has driven businesses into Linux's open arms, too.

To briefly explain the use of virtual containers (often referred to as "containerization"): Instead of running one OS per piece of hardware, users can configure one instance of a container management program, such as Kubernetes, and run dozens or hundreds of individual containers concurrently on one set of hardware. Each container, which is a barebones OS with limited access rights to the system running the container manager, thinks it is the only OS on the system, reducing the risks that one container's compromise propagates to others.

Once again, companies favor free Linux-based OSes over paying to utilize alternatives, especially when containerization demands such a dizzying scale of system deployment. Considering that Linux can beat Windows and other competing options on size (as its image is way smaller than that of server-grade Windows) and on cost, Linux easily makes the top pick for containers.

Finally, and most astoundingly, there's Microsoft. The history of Microsoft's tumultuous relationship with Linux deserves its own article, but suffice it to say that initially, Microsoft was not a fan of the fledgling open source project. Yet in 2014, the company made the now infamous declaration that Microsoft hearts Linux, and the connection between the two has been growing rosier ever since.

At first, many in the open source community were skeptical of Microsoft's ultimate level of commitment to reinforcing the continued maturation of Linux, not to mention suspicious of the purity of its motives in doing so. Since then, Microsoft has given its earnest support to Linux at every turn.

The software giant started by releasing the Windows Subsystem for Linux (WSL), an instance of Linux that can live inside any edition of Windows 10, and that soon will be virtualized fully, once WSL 2.0 leaves the Windows Insider program sometime next year.

Microsoft didn't stop there, though. The company created a modified version of the Linux kernel as part of its Azure Sphere enterprise solution. Though not as widely available as WSL, it constitutes a huge first for a company that once eschewed open source software entirely. Considering that few people predicted the partnership in the first place, there's no telling what fruits it will produce in the future.

All of these developments taken together paint an encouraging financial picture for Linux. As IBM, Google and Microsoft all have a stake in Linux's continuing ability to thrive, they all have become major backers of the project, contributing generous sums to its coffers annually. Strangely enough, as this trio of tech titans all compete in one arena or another, Linux is the only sacred cow they all agree to look after.

The Kernel That Keeps on Blossoming

When viewed in the scope of its entire life cycle, Linux has reached a commanding height that most homegrown projects can only dream of. Far from assimilating into the old guard that invited it into their midst, Linux is still as dynamic as ever.

As artificial intelligence has given rise to ambitious new applications like self-driving cars, Linux-based initiatives have stepped up to supply the base system to meet these applications' unique needs.

For instance, the Ubuntu distribution's parent company Canonical has been especially active in supplying the OS for self-driving cars, and rumours continue to swirl that Canonical eventually will become a publicly traded company.

Red Hat also is driving innovation from its newly insulated financial position as an IBM company. It recently signed on with Mozilla to optimise Web Assembly to run compiled code in the browser more efficiently and open-sourced the code for the Quay containerisation management software.

Between the assureds of its position and the enduring quality of its work, Red Hat truly has become the gold standard of open source profitability in the eyes of many.

It's a common jeer that Linux enthusiasts refuse to admit that the "Year of the Linux Desktop" will never come. Regardless, Linux has accomplished the more impressive feat of securing its place as a power player in a fast-paced tech industry that has shed so many others.

If you’re looking for ways on how to find hidden spyware on Android, then you’ve come to the right place.

Every smartphone, tablet, and other smart electronic device comes with premium hardware and software features. Because of this, users tend to use their computer less to a point that some ended up not needing computers anymore.

Android devices nowadays can almost do anything that a regular Windows PC can. While smartphones are becoming similar to computers in usability, Android spyware and viruses are becoming more prevalent.

At this point, you may already possess more private information on your phone than you do on your PC. Privacy is one of the biggest issues on smartphones and if you’re wondering whether someone is tracking your phone or spying on your phone, then continue reading.

How To Find Hidden Spyware on Android

There are many spying apps, and people can easily install them on the phones of other users in order to monitor them.

Understanding what these spying services can do is necessary for detecting spyware and knowing how to get rid of it. In this post, we’ll share with you several tips that can indicate that your phone is being tracked or spied on, and what can be done about it.

1. Unusual Strange Phone Behavior

One of the most common ways to detect spyware is to check for odd or strange behavior from your phone. If there is spyware or tracking software installed on your phone, chances are, your phone will act differently.

Observe if your phone lights up on its own, shutting down automatically or make strange sounds.

Find apps on your phone that you don’t remember installing. Clicking on malicious links elsewhere, such as a spam email, could be inviting these onto your phone inadvertently.

Rooted phones are more susceptible to these attacks and unusual behavior. Change your passwords frequently.

Some nefarious apps will piggy-back onto ones that may seem safe (for example, Godless malware), and back in the days of Jelly Bean exploits were found that allowed remote installation of apps via script injection. These exploits have since been patched, but hackers are always looking for new ways in. It’s always a race to see who can find exploits and either take advantage or secure the breach.

“Can these behaviors have other causes as well?“

Definitely, and those causes may have absolutely nothing to do with spyware.

2. Unusual Battery Drain

Another useful way to find out whether someone is spying on your phone is an increase in battery usage. After using a phone for a couple of weeks, most people become familiar with battery patterns and know their average battery life. If your phone is suddenly experiencing sub-par battery life for no tangible reason, it could be spyware. Spyware and tracking apps can drain your phone’s battery, especially if they’re running constantly.

Battery Statistics

It could also be an older battery, a new app you installed that’s running perpetually in the background, or a malfunctioning battery. If your phone is heating up for no discernible reason when it is idle, the same rules apply. It could be spyware, but most modern malware has improved in this area, so consider other causes as well.

3.Noise During Phone Calls

Look for unusual noise or sounds during phone calls. If you hear beeps or any other sounds during phone calls, then this can mean your calls are being recorded. Call recording apps can make such noises.

Also, if the call quality has suddenly worsened, this can also mean that your phone calls are being recorded. Static or feedback can be signs. However, it might also mean that you simply have a bad connection or that your phone isn’t handling calls well. The world isn’t always a sinister place; but its parts, including carriers and cell phones, have no shortage of problems.

4. Random Reboots And Shut Downs

Spyware and tracking apps can cause random reboots and shutdowns on Android devices. If you believe that your phone’s software is stable and updated, then random reboots or shutdowns can mean your phone has spyware software installed. An unstable third-party app might also be causing this.
Rebooting

In order to be certain, uninstall the app that you think is causing the random shutdowns. If you still experience random reboots and shutdowns, then your phone might be being tracked or spied on.

5. Look For Strange Text Messages

Some spyware apps can send strange text messages on phones with different codes or symbols. If you’re receiving such texts on your Android smartphone, then there is a chance your phone is being spied on or tracked.
Stagefright Detector

Stagefright is an all-too-recent example, although it used a video text for its exploit. It was a vulnerability identified and almost entirely addressed without seeing much use by hackers, luckily. If it still freaks out you out, use the app below to make sure you don’t have it on your phone.

6. High Data Usage

This is also a really useful factor in determining whether your phone has spyware or tracking software installed. Spyware apps can use a lot of data to send out your phone’s information and an increase in your phone’s data usage can also mean that your phone is being spied on. It could also mean that you are spending more time online, so don’t forget to consider all the factors.
Make sure that you monitor your phone’s data usage regularly to find out about any unusually high usage in data. For an app that will help you do this, try My Data Manager below.

7. Sounds When Your Phone Is Not In Use

When your phone is idle, it shouldn’t make any sort of sound. If you’re hearing sounds when you’re not using your phone, it could mean that your phone is being spied on. If you want to eliminate both the possibility of spyware and also rogue apps causing the noises, perform a factory reset. If your phone is rooted, flash stock firmware. And don’t disregard OS updates. This will solve a lot of these problems.

8. Delay In Shut Down

Try shutting down your phone several times during the day. Android devices usually shut down quickly, but if your phone is taking an unusually long time shutting down, then this can suggest that someone is monitoring and controlling your phone. Or it could also be an app chewing up resources, an actual hardware problem, or a faulty/corrupted install.

9. Be App-Smart

Be wary of pirated apps. Advertisers collect data about your through ad/app bundles. Read what permissions an app requires you grant, and decide if it’s worth it. Watch for clones of legitimate apps and websites. A new technique, called smishing, creates an overlay on top of banking log-ins so that it can steal your information. Ensure you are on a secure site (the IP address starts with HTTPS instead of HTTP) when you enter sensitive information.


App Smart

Third-party apps can be awesome, but they also haven’t undergone the same amount of scrutiny that app stores like Google Play or Amazon put their apps through. And some bad apps do slip through on these sites as well before they are detected. If you experience issues with an app, get rid of it and reboot. If you still are having problems, start over with a factory reset.

10. PopUps

Ironically, a popup that warns about impending doom on your Android, can infect your phone with malware itself. The more you click these dialogue windows, the more possibility you will be redirected to a shady place or click on something deceptive. Never run a .exe or flash file that you aren’t sure about. A lot of advertising popups aren’t malware per se, but sometimes there’s a fine line between advertisements and malware, hence the terms — adware and malvertising.


PC Error Message

If a popup proclaims that you’ve won something that’s too good to be true; it probably is. Ads are annoying anyway, and there are a few apps you can download to block them like Adblock Browser for Android. These apps tend to be more effective if you are rooted.

Popups can be a sign of an existing infection, that wants to gain more privileges or information from you.

11. Check Suspicious Files

If you have a file manager installed on your phone, look for any suspicious files or folders created on your phone. If you find some new files and folders you know for a fact you didn’t install as part of an app or anything else, then there’s a chance your phone has tracking or spyware software installed.

Occasionally, you might be lucky enough to find phone numbers or emails that will lend a clue as to who is doing the tracking, but be certain before you assume and accuse.

12. Phone Suddenly Became So Slow

If your phone has suddenly become really slow for no obvious reasons at all, then there’s a risk that your phone is being monitored and controlled. Don’t leave your phone unattended around someone you don’t trust, use encryption, or at the very least, a lock screen.

13. Who’s Doing the Spying or Tracking?

Remember earlier when we said that the world isn’t always a sinister place? It isn’t, but there are some crappy people that do crappy things. What motivates them to take the time out of their day and expend the effort?

Spyware Anonymous


Most likely they:
presume you have something they want,
feel passionate about gaining your personal information (e.g. cheating spouse),
need to satisfy an addiction (but hackers/phreakers still need the effort to result in something worthwhile),
employ an app or method targeting a larger population segment,
or perhaps, employ you.
There isn’t a great way to identify the person doing the spying, because information can be redirected several times to several places. Your best bet is to prevent or get rid of the spyware.

Conclusion

No user wants viruses, tracking apps or spyware installed on his/her Android smartphone, but hackers are finding it increasingly worthwhile to put it there. The first step in fixing this issue is to check for spyware. Use the tips mentioned above to check whether there are spyware and tracking software installed on your phone, and if so, get rid of it.

Source: JoyOfAndroid