Houseparty video chat app offers $1m for smear campaign proof

After hacking claims surfaced, Houseparty is adamant its service is secure and has never been compromised.

Professors from the University of California, Berkeley in the United States hold an online curse on Zoom, which, like other group video chat apps, has skyrocketed in popularity as millions work from home during coronavirus restrictions [File: Nathan Frandino/Reuters]
Professors from the University of California, Berkeley in the United States hold an online curse on Zoom, which, like other group video chat apps, has skyrocketed in popularity as millions work from home during coronavirus restrictions [File: Nathan Frandino/Reuters]

Group video chat app Houseparty offered a reward of $1m for evidence of what it said was a smear campaign against the company as it fights to quash claims that its app is stealing data from others installed on the same smartphones.

Hundreds of tweets from Houseparty users have surfaced in the last two days, claiming that their Spotify, Snapchat and other accounts were hacked after they downloaded the Houseparty app. Houseparty, which is owned by Fortnite maker Epic Games, has denied hacking claims.

“All Houseparty accounts are safe – the service is secure, has never been compromised, and doesn’t collect passwords for other sites,” the company said in a tweet.

“We are investigating indications that the recent hacking rumors were spread by a paid commercial smear campaign to harm Houseparty. We are offering a $1,000,000 bounty for the first individual to provide proof of such a campaign to [email protected]

Houseparty and Epic did not immediately respond to requests for further comment.

The app, among those most downloaded from the Google Play Store and Apple’s App Store, was available for download on both platforms.

Concerning the claims against Houseparty, cybersecurity expert Graham Cluley said no legitimate computer security firm had confirmed that there was a problem with that particular app. 

“The fact that you installed Houseparty and then your Spotify account was breached may be entirely and utterly unconnected,” he said.

“Hackers use credential stuffing attacks, using passwords scooped up from previous security breaches, all the time in an attempt to break into accounts.”

As restrictive measures and stay-at-home orders have spread throughout the world, video apps like Houseparty, Zoom and Microsoft Teams are being used by professionals to work, students to study and even government officials who are also taking precautions. 

Zoom has been downloaded more than 50 million times on the Google app store alone in recent weeks. But its creator is facing questions over an alleged breach of privacy after being accused of passing users’ information to Facebook. Zoom has also faced criticism over privacy concerns and alleged phishing attacks.

Source: Reuters

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