Clubhouse says it’s fixing bugs that let user leak audio streams

22 Feb 2021404 Views

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The company behind the popular new app said it is implementing new ‘safeguards’ to prevent any further leaks of audio data.

Clubhouse, the buzzy audio-only social app, has banned a user who managed to siphon audio data off the app to a third-party site.

The company said it is implementing new security measures but the incident will likely leave it red-faced as it deals with a surge in users interested in the checking out the audio discussion platform.

Bloomberg reported that a user, believed to be in China, was able to infiltrate several chat rooms on Clubhouse, where users gather to talk, and stream the audio to a separate third-party site.

The breach flies in the face of one of Clubhouse’s tenets: that audio chats remain within the platform’s rooms and aren’t archived or available for listening outside of the app.

Clubhouse said it has identified the user and permanently banned them from the platform. It added that new “safeguards” have been put in place.

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It speaks to the challenges that a social media platform can face in protecting its service when it is suddenly met with a rush of sign-ups.

According to data from App Annie, Clubhouse has reached about 8m downloads. However, the app is still invite-only and only available on iOS.

Clubhouse is enjoying a moment in the sun with users, including celebrities, getting involved and drawing more attention to the app, but it has also attracted scrutiny from security researchers.

Just over a week ago, a report challenged Clubhouse on how well it was securing its audio streams and metadata. Stanford Internet Observatory claimed in its research that some of Clubhouse’s data was being transferred to a server in China where it could be vulnerable to spying.

Clubhouse said it was rolling out “additional encryption” to its systems and preventing any further data being sent to China.

The security incidents haven’t curtailed the company behind the app too much as it plans to open the platform up to more users. It has reportedly raised more than $100m from investors since it launched less than a year ago and is now valued at $1bn.

Jonathan Keane is a freelance business and technology journalist based in Dublin

editorial@siliconrepublic.com