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A Clubhouse bug let people lurk in rooms invisibly

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Apr 23, 2021
A Clubhouse bug let people lurk in rooms invisibly

Enlarge (credit: Sam Whitney | Wired | Getty Images)

“Basically, I’m going to keep talking to you, but I’m going to disappear,” longtime security researcher Katie Moussouris told me in a private Clubhouse room in February. “We’ll still be talking, but I’ll be gone.” And then her avatar vanished. I was alone, or at least that’s how it seemed. “That’s it,” she said from the digital beyond. “That’s the bug. I am a fucking ghost.”

It’s been more than a year since the audio social network Clubhouse debuted. In that time, its explosive growth has come with a panoply of security, privacy, and abuse issues. That includes a newly disclosed pair of vulnerabilities, discovered by Moussouris and now fixed, that could have allowed an attacker to lurk and listen in a Clubhouse room undetected, or verbally disrupt a discussion beyond a moderator’s control.

The vulnerability could also be exploited with virtually no technical knowledge. All you needed was two iPhones that had Clubhouse installed and a Clubhouse account. (Clubhouse is still only available on iOS.) To launch the attack, you would first log into your Clubhouse account on Phone A, and then join or start a room. Then you’d log into your Clubhouse account on Phone B—which would automatically log you out on Phone A—and join the same room. That’s where the problems started. Phone A would show a login screen, but wouldn’t fully log you out. You’d still have a live connection to the room you were in. Once you “left” that same room on Phone B, you would disappear, but could maintain your ghost connection on Phone A.

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