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'Houseparty' users allege app is linked to hacking

Houseparty login page.

Users of popular video-calling app Houseparty have begun reporting hacked social media accounts since downloading the application.

There has been a surge in tweets from young Australians reporting their Spotify, Amazon, Instagram, email and bank accounts being hacked soon after downloading the Houseparty app.

This morning, many Australian users have complained about receiving emails telling them their personal accounts have been logged into from people in foreign countries.

Students playing a game in Houseparty. (Credit: Ayden Dawkins & Eva Marchingo)

Houseparty has experienced a boom in Australian downloads since stricter quarantine measures against the coronavirus outbreak were released last week.

The app allows users to video chat with multiple friends and family at once, with games on offer to help people cope with isolation due to COVID-19.

Originally launched in 2016, it was acquired by Epic Games (the makers of Fortnite) in 2019 and has leapt in popularity over the past month.

VentureBeat reported “Houseparty has seen its daily downloads rise from 24,795 per day on February 15 to 651,694 on March 25”.

Houseparty is being blamed for the account hacking due to the close timing between users downloading the app and experiencing hacking.

Some users have taken to sharing screenshots of notifications about their accounts being hacked, with one user reporting their Apple ID was signed in to from a town in Jakarta, Indonesia.

Others have described their bank accounts being hacked or social media pages being signed in to from foreign places.

One user said their friendship group all had their Spotify, Amazon, Paypal and online banking accounts hacked “since downloading [Houseparty] in the past few days”.

A spokeswoman for Houseparty defended the app and said they were unaware of any link between the app and account hacks.

“We’ve found no evidence to suggest a link between Houseparty and the compromises of other unrelated accounts,” she said.

The spokeswoman suggested people should avoid using similar usernames or passwords across multiple accounts to prevent hacking.

Other measures for staying safe include enabling two-factor authentication on social media accounts, changing passwords if you fear you have been hacked and constantly keeping an eye out for unusual behaviour on your accounts.


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