Privacy & Security 2 min. read

Apple FaceTime bug allows people to eavesdrop on you — even if you don’t answer

Apple FaceTime bug allows people to eavesdrop on you — even if you don’t answer

Apple has proudly been touting its privacy policies of late, but things turned sour last night when a vulnerability in its group FaceTime feature was exposed. The bug allows people to eavesdrop on the people being called, even if they didn’t answer the phone.

What’s worse, the bug can also expose video too, again without the person on the other end even needing to accept the call. The vulnerability isn’t something tough to pull off, either. All you have to do is enter your own number when making a call and you will immediately hear the audio from the person’s phone — before they answer or reject the call. If the recipient pressed the power button from the lockscreen—often used to reject a call or silence the ringing—then the person calling will instantly get live video from your camera, too.

Scary, right?

The issue becomes more troubling for Mac users. On an iPhone, the ring time for Facetime is shorter. By default, it rings for longer on Mac, meaning that there will be a greater length of time a person could eavesdrop on your conversations. In all cases, when the FaceTime calls ends, either because it rings out or someone answers, then the eavesdropping will stop.

Naturally, Apple became aware of the bug and immediately issued a response, stating that it had temporarily suspended the Group FaceTime feature until a patch is ready to fix the issue in the next week. Reports, however, show that some users are still able to exploit the bug to eavesdrop on unsuspecting users.

What should you do? Your best bet is to immediately disable FaceTime entirely on all of your devices. On your iPhone or iPad, simply go to Settings and toggle the FaceTime icon to off. On your Mac, open the FaceTime app and then click “FaceTime” from the menu bar and turn it off from there.

This is a serious privacy issue. While Apple is working hard to fix the issue, its giant billboard at CES, talking about “What happens on your iPhone, stays on your iPhone,” is probably something the company wishes it could forget right about now.

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