Houseparty Claims Sabotage By Rival Over Hacking Reports

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The owner of video chat app Houseparty claims a commercial rival has engaged in a smear campaign, and is offering £1 million for proof

Group video-chat app Houseparty is offering a reward of $1 million for proof that it has been subjected to a commercial smear campaign.

The claim comes after the app was subjected to rumours that downloading it, caused other services such as Netflix and Spotify to be hacked, the BBC reported.

The company said there was “no evidence” to back up those claims, which came after Houseparty became one of the most downloaded apps in a number of countries due to national lock-downs that aim to halt the spread of Coronavirus.

Novel coronavirus. Image credit: CDCC
Image credit: CDCC

Houseparty allegations

Indeed, it is reported that two million people downloaded the app per week in during March. This is compared to just 130,000 downloads during the same time last month.

The owner of the Houseparty app is the gaming giant, Epic Games, which had purchased Houseparty from its creator in 2019.

According to the BBC, Epic Games has not said why it believes Houseparty were the victim of a smear attack but promised to pay the first person to provide evidence of this.

The BBC reported that problems for Houseparty began on Monday, when rumours on social media alleged that the app was the reason other apps were being hacked.

Several people posted on Twitter screenshots they claimed showed they were locked out of applications like Netflix, Spotify and even bank accounts after they downloaded Houseparty.

According to the BBC, Houseparty does not access third-party apps such as Netflix or Spotify. That said, it does ask for access to user’s contacts and connections on Facebook and Snapchat.

Those online tweets were reportedly followed up by calls to delete Houseparty, and by claims that Epic Games was preventing users from removing Houseparty from their phones.

Company denial

The company issued a statement denying those allegations, and it insisted its app is secure and has not been compromised.

“We’ve found no evidence to suggest a link between Houseparty and the compromises of other unrelated accounts,” a spokesperson for Epic Games was quoted by the BBC as saying.

“As a general rule, we suggest all users choose strong passwords when creating online accounts on any platform,” the spokesperson said.

And then Epic Games offered a huge reward to catch those responsible for the smear.

“We are investigating indications that the recent hacking rumours were spread by a paid commercial smear campaign to harm Houseparty,” Epic Games reportedly wrote in a tweet.

“We are offering a $1,000,000 bounty for the first individual to provide proof of such a campaign to bounty@Houseparty.com”.

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Author: Tom Jowitt
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