Is Houseparty safe? | How False Statements Confused Users

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Houseparty is a video conferencing application developed by Life on Air – a subsidiary of the Fortnite developer, Epic Games. It is an application whose popularity has increased considerably due to the periods of self-isolation caused by COVID-19. The app is a fun way for friends to join a video conference, as it allows you to both play games and host rooms simultaneously.

Unfortunately, in the past month, Houseparty has encountered bad press due to false rumors that it had caused user piracy. With so many rumors going around, it can be confusing. So, is the Houseparty app safe to use?

Is Houseparty safe?

In late March 2020, Houseparty suddenly went viral on social networking sites like Twitter. Hundreds of users have started to claim that the Houseparty app had them hacked into secondary accounts, such as Spotify. Some users have even wrongly claimed that Houseparty had penetrated their online banking services.

Houseparty hacks rumors are false

These tweets are believed to have been launched and promoted by Internet trolls with nothing better to do. In the days following these first rumors, it became apparent that there was no truth in these claims. And, therefore, it is fair to say that Houseparty remains an application that is mainly safe to use.

Despite this, some features of Houseparty may affect certain users. When a party is started, anyone in the conversation can unlock the party, which will allow any user to invite more people (up to a total of eight). This could theoretically lead to unwanted people joining a party.

Certainly, people cannot go to a party without receiving an invitation. However, if a party invitation has been shared publicly, it is possible that a random stranger may end up inside the party. Theoretically, this could lead to cybercriminals, cyberbullying, cyberbullying, or other unwanted individuals who end up in chat or board games.

Is Houseparty safe for children?

As long as children use Houseparty responsibly, they should be safe enough to use the app. However, parents should verify that their child has set up their Houseparty account using a single strong password.

In addition, parents must ensure that their children only use Houseparty with the private mode activated. This feature ensures that the group they create is locked.

To do this, open the application and go to:

Account > Settings > Private mode.

However, parents should make sure that all members of a group have set up their accounts in private mode, since any of the eight members of a group can theoretically unlock a room; which could lead to inviting unwanted users to the video conference.

It should also be noted that when new users create a Houseparty account, you have the option to log into Facebook and Snapchat. However, this not only adds your contacts, but also gives you the option of adding friends of friends. For this reason, your child is advised not to link secondary accounts and services.

Does the Houseparty application have security vulnerabilities?

Lukas Stefanko, security researcher at ESET, previously analyzed the Houseparty application. According to Stefanko, there are no obvious or worrying vulnerabilities that would allow users to be hacked. This seems to give the platform a clean state of health.

It should also be mentioned that the developer of Houseparty operates a Bug Bounty program, which encourages security researchers to find flaws. Providing incentives and compensation to the global community means that critical vulnerabilities are often found more quickly and fixed, rather than being used against the enterprise or its users.

Is there a way for cybercriminals to hack a Houseparty account?

Although Houseparty has not been specifically linked to incidents of mass hacking and the application is not considered to be a danger to users per se, it is still possible that individual users may have their Houseparty account compromised. it is not sufficiently well protected.

Mozilla, the developer of Firefox, has openly criticized Houseparty for its inability to enforce strong password security. He points out that when users create a Houseparty account, it is not compulsory for them to choose a strong password, 5-character passwords such as “12345” being authorized. Not only are they extremely easy to decipher, but it is generally accepted that a strong password must contain more than 12 characters.

Of course, Houseparty users can set a stronger password if they wish (they don't have to make their password short and weak). However, Houseparty's failure to require a strong password and warn users if they choose a weak password is still considered poor security.

Users who accidentally choose an insecure password could end up seeing their Houseparty account penetrated by hackers using a brute force attack.

In addition, if a user has recycled their password elsewhere, this hacker could then access the accounts and secondary services that belong to this user. This is why it is so vital not only to set strong passwords, but also to ensure that passwords are always unique for each online service used.

I think I have set a weak password, what should I do?

Anyone who believes they have accidentally set their Houseparty password in an unsafe manner is recommended to update their password immediately.

A strong password will be at least 12 characters long and will contain upper and lower case letters, numbers and symbols. It will also be a unique password that you have never used on any other account or service.

Since it is incredibly difficult to remember a unique password for each account you have, we recommend that you use a password manager. The best can not only store all your passwords securely, but also help you generate secure and random passwords with one click – among others.

Is Houseparty bad for privacy?

Houseparty is an app that collects user data inside the platform and from all attached social media accounts. It also collects data from third-party applications. Houseparty uses this data for marketing purposes and shares this data with third parties in order to serve targeted advertisements to users.

Services like Google Voice can help you with verification by SMS

To join Houseparty, you must provide your phone number to receive a verification SMS. In addition, users must provide their name and date of birth. Of course, users can choose to provide false information if they wish, but the phone number will need to be valid to receive the verification number.

For those who don't want to give Houseparty their number, you can use services like Google Voice to set up a phone number online. Since this will receive the verification code instead of your smartphone, you will avoid having to give Houseparty your numbers.

New Houseparty users also have the option of connecting their Snapchat, mobile phone contacts and Facebook contacts. Again, anyone who would prefer that Houseparty does not have this access can refuse to grant the consent of the application.

Finally, Houseparty can find parties depending on the location. To do this, you will need to grant Houseparty access to location services on your device. The good news, however, is that this is disabled by default and can be re-enabled or disabled at any time.

Invasive data collection habits?

Since April 10, 2020, Houseparty has improved its privacy policy to remove some of the most invasive statements it included. The new policy has reduced the amount and type of data it collects from users, which is a welcome improvement.

However, Houseparty remains somewhat invasive, and there is little that users can do to prevent Houseparty from using tracking tools and cookies to collect their personal information. In fact, Houseparty notes that blocking cookies can cause the browser version to malfunction.

The privacy policy also specifies that the company will use your IP address to derive your location. So even if you turn off location services, Life on Air will still try to find out where you are.

In addition, Houseparty will collect information about your friends (such as their email address and phone number) if you link a Facebook account. This means that even if you refuse to provide your real information, Houseparty can collect your data without your knowledge when one of your Facebook friends joins the platform and connects its social networks.

Despite the data that Houseparty collects from users, the application in no way collects user passwords for third-party applications installed on the devices on which it resides. Any misrepresentation of this nature is just a malicious rumor.

In fact, Houseparty is offering a $ 1 million reward to anyone who can help prove that their video conferencing platform was the victim of deliberate sabotage by a competitor.

Are my cats private?

Fortunately, in the latest version of Houseparty's privacy policy, the company removed some of the most disturbing permissions it contained. This means that any ideas, knowledge, concepts or inventions that you might find during a conversation will remain yours.

Finally, it should be mentioned that Houseparty does not provide end-to-end encryption for video conferencing sessions. The video data of each party is encrypted using HTTPS to secure it in transit, but this data passes through the servers of Houseparty where it could theoretically be consulted or analyzed by the company and the third parties or affiliated companies with which it works. – as well as government authorities if a warrant is served.

How to Stay Safe While Using Houseparty

For concerned parents who do not want their children to communicate with strangers, we do not recommend linking Houseparty to other services or applications (such as Snapchat or Facebook). Instead, add each contact individually:

  1. Tap + in the upper right corner of the application.
  2. Click on Invite new friends to send a link to a specific friend via another application. You can also press Add new friends to search for contacts and add them manually.
  3. Tap Add by name to search by user name.
  4. Tap Add next to the contact you want to add. Your child's friend will have to accept the request to connect with him on Houseparty.

Adding contacts manually, one at a time, will remove the ability for the app to automatically connect your child to people they've never met.

Houseparty users also have the ability to find contacts based on their location. Admittedly, position tracking is disabled by default. However, it should be verified that your child has not activated this feature by directing you to the permissions to ensure that the location services are set to of.

In addition, parents should ensure that their children are using an up-to-date firewall and antivirus program on their device. This will ensure that if they accidentally receive a questionable link or download via the Houseparty app, they don't end up infected with malware. For more information and a list of the best services, please see our best antivirus guide.

How to remove Houseparty?

If you are still not convinced of Houseparty and prefer not to collect data about yourself, the option exists to delete both your account and the application. Deleting the app is simple, because you just have to uninstall it in the same way as any other app.

However, if you want to completely delete your account, you will need to do so. before delete the application. This process is slightly different depending on whether you use Houseparty on iOS or Android.

Delete your account in the iOS app

Send an email requesting an account closure (Android)

If you are an Android Houseparty user, you will need to request the termination of your account by contacting customer support. For that, proceed as following:

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