Lots of people suddenly want to delete the Houseparty app. Here's why | How to delete Houseparty account becomes a worldwide trending search term as the newly popular app rejects claims it is unsafe.

Lots of people suddenly want to delete the Houseparty app. Here's why

Lots of people suddenly want to delete the Houseparty app. Here's why

Lots of people suddenly want to delete the Houseparty app. Here's why

Lots of people suddenly want to delete the Houseparty app. Here's why

Lots of people suddenly want to delete the Houseparty app. Here's why

Lots of people suddenly want to delete the Houseparty app. Here's why
Lots of people suddenly want to delete the Houseparty app. Here's why
  • By: ABC News (AU)
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Houseparty app, facing wave of deletions, says it will pay $1 million for 'proof' of hacking smear

Updated April 01, 2020 19:45:05

It was set to be the platform for these isolated times.

Downloads of group-video app Houseparty surged in recent weeks as friends and family members, in a coronavirus-lockdown world, sought to move their IRL relationships online.

But now Houseparty is facing a wave of deletions following rumours the platform is compromising users' data security.

Here's what you need to know.

People are freaking out and spreading rumours

In the past day, Twitter has been full of users claiming their Spotify, PayPal and iCloud accounts have been compromised and blaming Houseparty for the breach without providing proof.

Epic Games, which owns the app, said the claims were inaccurate.

"We've found no evidence to suggest a link between Houseparty and the compromises of other unrelated accounts," a spokesperson told the BBC.

In any case, "how to delete Houseparty account" became the number one worldwide trending search term on Google in the 24 hours to Wednesday morning after posts urging users to ditch the app spread quickly.

The app's developers are now offering a $1 million reward for proof of what it suspects was a "paid commercial smear campaign".

It is not clear what those indications it is investigating are.

The ABC has contacted the app's developers as well as Epic Games for comment.

This may not be related at all to Houseparty

Houseparty said earlier this week "all Houseparty accounts are safe".

"The service is secure, has never been compromised, and doesn't collect passwords for other sites," it said.

Paul Haskell-Dowland, the associate dean for computing and security in the School of Science at Edith Cowan University, said users should not be concerned the app had compromised their data security.

"The likelihood is this is not a breach of any kind of the Houseparty app," he told the ABC.

"If indeed there were, with an organisation behind it like Epic Games, it's very likely that that would have been addressed very quickly and they would be taking preventative measures and indeed reaching out to people to inform them."

He also said that it was very unlikely a company with a reputation like Epic's would intentionally introduce a backdoor into its platform that would allow it to compromise other services on a user's device.

Lukas Stefanko, from cybersecurity firm ESET, told Forbes the app "doesn't provide a lot of in-app options and settings, which creates less scenarios for exploiting security issues".

Associate Professor Haskell-Dowland said it was either going to be an example of a commercial smear, as Houseparty alleged, or a case where a handful of users had been compromised, possibly because of what is known as a credential stuffing attack.

That is where log-in details for users have ended up on a database following a prior hack like the one that hit Canva last year.

Criminals then simply use bots to try those passwords out on other apps, like Houseparty, working on the assumption many people re-use passwords across platforms.

How to delete depends on your device

Deleting your account will not help you if someone actually has gained access to accounts other than your Houseparty one.

Still, Associate Professor Haskell-Dowland said uninstalling the app was the obvious solution if people were concerned about an app's security.

To do that:

  • On an iPhone, users can delete their account by going into settings and privacy and clicking "delete account"
  • On an Android, users should email support@houseparty.com and ask for their account to be deleted and any data to be removed

As a standard protective measure, you should never use the same password for all your platforms, particularly if you are still using something like "password1" or "12345".

Instead, use a password manager, which generates strong log-ins for all your platforms, and consider two-factor authentication.

"I am using 1Password and I have got over 350 unique passwords stored within that system," Associate Professor Haskell-Dowland said.

"Should a particular set of credentials get lost or stolen, then it is only going to affect that one service."

Topics: social-media, internet-culture, popular-culture, computers-and-technology, hacking, united-states, australia

First posted April 01, 2020 16:18:29



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