Apple Disables Group FaceTime Following Reports of a Security Flaw that Allowed Eavesdropping
A glitch in Apple's FaceTime app let users hear—and see—the other person even if the recipient never accepted the call.
- By Sydny Shepard
- Jan 30, 2019
Tech giant Apple has disabled the group chat function in their FaceTime app after security researchers found that the recipient of a call could be heard, sometimes even seen, without ever having answered the FaceTime call. The security flaw was widely reported on Monday leaving the company with no other option than disabling the feature until a fix could be found and rolled out.
The flaw is unusual for the iPhone maker as it prides itself on its strong privacy safeguards and comes at the height of scrutiny on technology companies that are often accused of violating users' privacy.
The security glitch was first reported by 9to5Mac, which wrong that the bug, "which was spreading virally over social media," lets you "immediately hear the audio coming from their phone." The trade publication listed in full detail the steps one would need to take to reproduce the glitch, which involved starting a FaceTime video call with an iPhone contact and then immediately adding your own phone number to the call.
This move would trick the phone into starting a group FaceTime call and activate the other person's audio. If the recipient hit the power or volume button, the phone would broadcast video as well, The Verge reported.
The bug only worked on devices that had upgraded to iOS 12.1, which introduced group video calling. In a statement provided to several media outlets, Apple said it is "aware of this issue and we have identified a fix that will be released in a software update later this week."
Sydny Shepard is the Executive Editor of Campus Security & Life Safety.