Bank details hacked via Houseparty app?

Updated: Apr 02, 2020, 10:14 IST | Gaurav Sarkar | Mumbai

Several users of popular multi-window video calling app accuse it of hacking into bank, gaming, shopping accounts

Many users tweeted that the app was hacking into sensitive information. Representation pic
Many users tweeted that the app was hacking into sensitive information. Representation pic

Popular group video calling application 'Houseparty,' on which people have been staying in touch during times of social distancing, was in a sticky spot this week, after people the world over accused it of hacking.

Users complained that attempts have been made to steal sensitive information from their devices on which Houseparty was installed. This includes allegations of money being siphoned from their bank accounts as well as attempts being made to reset passwords to their Spotify, Instagram and Netflix accounts.

The application, which allows up to eight people to simultaneously video chat with each other, surged to the top free trending category for Android and iOS platforms, after physical human interaction drastically decreased amid lockdown in India.

The message the popular rapper received from his bank about the deduction attempt of over Rs 29,000 from his account
The message the popular rapper received from his bank about the deduction attempt of over Rs 29,000 from his account

On Monday, many Twitter users posted that the app was hacking into sensitive information. Many Mumbaikars, too, have allegedly faced similar problems and ended uninstalling it.

Users speak
Eshaan (last name not given), said "Around two days after installing the app, I found two attempts of my accounts being hacked. Amazon's security systems are pretty rubbish because I got no OTP or SMS regarding this. I was lucky that I happened to check my email exactly when this was happening,"

He added, "Whoever accessed my Amazon account also ordered Rs 99,000 worth Play Station titles. I managed to cancel it in 'order pending' and changed my password and email. The next day my Netflix account was accessed by someone from Ontario, Canada. This was the same email ID as the one I used with Houseparty."

A popular rapper and reality TV contestant said he had been using the app for only about two-three days before deleting it. "The day before yesterday I got a message on my phone that someone was trying to deduct Rs 29,455 from my account. Before that I had a similar message, this time for Rs 22,000. There is a correlation, because the card from which the money was going to be deducted though blocked, is still signed into my phone account. I immediately got off the application and am not getting any such notifications."

However, the app's privacy policy doesn't seem to be too different from other popular video calling apps, and as of now, there is no evidence to suggest it can be used by hackers to access user's personal information.

'Houseparty offers bounty'
After #deletehouseparty started trending on Twitter, the app 's official Twitter handle on March 30, said, "All Houseparty accounts are safe — the service is secure, has never been compromised, and doesn't collect passwords for other sites."

The next day, they put up another tweet, "We are investigating indications that the recent hacking rumours 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 bounty@houseparty.com."

Eight
Max no, of people who can chat at one time

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