With the UK on lockdown as a result of the coronavirus outbreak, many of us have been connecting with our friends and families online – whether that means joining your pals for an online home workout or downloading an app for group chats.
One that has proved to be particularly popular during self-isolation is video chat and gaming app, Houseparty. People have been using it to catch up, hold pub quizzes and join their colleagues for post-work drinks and it has gone from 130,000 downloads per week in mid February to 2 million downloads by mid March.
However, the app’s owner Epic Games has been forced to release a statement following claims that is has been hacking its users various other accounts, including Spotify, Uber and PayPal.
The company denies the claims and insists that they have fallen victim to a smear campaign.
A spokesperson for Houseparty said: ‘We’ve found no evidence to suggest a link between Houseparty and the compromises of other unrelated accounts.
‘As a general rule, we suggest all users choose strong passwords when creating online accounts on any platform.
‘Use a unique password for each account, and use a password generator or password manager to keep track of passwords, rather than using passwords that are short and simple.’
They added: ‘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 firstname.lastname@example.org.’
Cyber-security specialist from Comparitech, Brian Higgins, told The Sun: ‘There is a rising wave of cybercrime activity directly linked to the global uptake of group social media platforms now that everyone is in isolation.
‘I’d definitely recommend deleting any apps you think may be causing you and your contacts harm.
‘However, in this case I’d give Houseparty a chance to investigate and explain what’s happening. They’re clearly providing a vital service to people’s mental health and wellbeing.’