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Houseparty hack rumours are part of paid ‘smear campaign’, say developers behind app

‘We are offering a $1m bounty for the first individual to provide proof of such a campaign’

Anthony Cuthbertson
Tuesday 31 March 2020 12:55 BST
Houseparty claims it is the victim of a smear campaign
Houseparty claims it is the victim of a smear campaign (Houseparty)

Social video app Houseparty has rejected online rumours that downloading the application causes users’ social media and other online accounts to be hacked.

The app’s creators instead claim that it is the victim of a “commercial smear campaign” designed to dent its surging popularity, offering a $1 million bounty to anyone who can provide proof.

Houseparty has seen significant user growth over the last few weeks, as billions of people are forced to stay at home due to coronavirus containment measures.

The number of app downloads rose from around 130,000 per week in February, to 2 million per week in March, according to analytics firm Apptopia.

On Monday, various publications reported on a series of online posts claiming that installing Houseparty caused other apps like eBay, Instagram and Netflix to be hacked on people’s devices.

The company, which is owned by Fortnite creators Epic Games, used Twitter to fight the rumours circulating on social media.

“All Houseparty accounts are safe – the service is secure, has never been compromised, and doesn’t collect passwords for other sites,” the firm tweeted on Monday.

On Tuesday, Houseparty posted a follow-up tweet offering the million-dollar reward. “We are investigating indications that the recent hacking rumours were spread by a paid commercial smear campaign to harm Houseparty,” it stated. “We are offering a $1,000,000 bounty for the first individual to provide proof of such a campaign.”

Anyone with any information relating to the alleged campaign is urged to contact in order to claim the bounty.

Cyber security experts have also dismissed the rumours, noting that such a hack would not even be technically possible.

“Houseparty hasn’t hacked your bank account,” said malware researcher Lukas Stefanko, who works for security company ESET. “Based on tweets, people installed trending app, but we don’t know what else they installed or where else [they] might [have] entered Houseparty credentials that could be reused.”

Houseparty encouraged users to use a unique password for its app, rather than reusing the same account credentials across multiple services.

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