Ukrainians turn to encrypted messages, offline maps, and Twitter amid Russian invasion

Ukrainians encrypted messages

Ukrainians encrypted messages


Ukrainians have turned to offline mapping and encrypted communication apps in the wake of the Russian invasion of their country, which is displacing millions who have left their homes to either fight back or flee to neighboring countries. According to data from app store intelligence firm Apptopia, over the past several days Ukrainians have been downloading various communication apps, offline maps, and others where they can keep up with the latest news and information, like Twitter and streaming radio apps.

Currently, the top five apps in the country’s iOS App Store include the private messenger Signal, messaging app Telegram, Twitter, and offline messengers Zello and Bridgefy. Elsewhere in the top 10 is WhatsApp; Maps.Me, an offline maps app that’s now ranking a half dozen spots higher than Google Maps, which has now just pulled its live traffic info dubbed a security risk); and Starlink’s app from Space X — the latter which jumped up 39 spots after Elon Musk announced the satellite internet service was now active in the country. (Of course, to what extent the service is actually viable in the places it’s needed may be reflected in the app’s rank going forward.)

Among the top messaging apps, some saw greater adoption than others.


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From the start of the Russian invasion on Feb. 24, 2022, through Sunday, Feb. 27, 2022 Telegram topped the charts with 54,200 new installs across both the App Store and Google Play combined — a 25% increase from the same time period in January. Meanwhile, the offline messaging app Bridgefy saw the largest percentage increase in new installs, growing a whopping 4,730.8% month-over-month from just 591 downloads during the same period last month to now 28,550 new installs over the past few days.

Another walkie-talkie app, Zello, grew downloads 99.3% from 12,540 in Jan. 24-27 to 24,990 during Feb. 24-27. Signal’s gains percentage-wise were a more modest 20.6%, but it has fairly strong adoption with 39,780 installs during the same time last month and 47,990 during the past several days.

Of course, not all messaging apps are created equally when it comes to security.

Signal is the most secure app, offering end-to-end encryption, with no data collected beyond an account creation date. Telegram, meanwhile, doesn’t offer end-to-end encryption by default, but it allows users to manually enable an encrypted “secret chats” feature. However, Telegram has been criticized by Signal’s founder Moxie Marlinspike for not being as secure as it claims, and those claims have been backed up by other security researchers and cryptographers over the years.

FULL STORY


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