Apple Temporarily Disabled FaceTime After Bug Lets Users Eavesdrop On People

No software is perfect, period.

FaceTime is a proprietary videotelephony product developed by Apple for supported iOS mobile devices and Macintosh computers. Here, a bug has been discovered that lets users call anyone on their FaceTime contact, and hear the audio coming from their phone.

And that before the person has either accepted or rejected the incoming call.

For obvious reasons, the bug believed to affect any pair of iOS devices running iOS 12.1 or later, is a huge privacy problem as people could easily eavesdrop on others.

For Apple that is vocal about privacy and customer data protection, the bug is certainly a bad news for the company. Especially since the company has long touted its iPhones to be way more secured that competitor Google's Android.

To reproduce this bug, users of Facebook just need to:

  1. Start a FaceTime Video call with an iPhone contact.
  2. While the call is dialing, swipe up from the bottom of the screen and tap 'Add Person'.
  3. Add own phone number on the 'Add Person' screen.
  4. Start a group FaceTime that calls the caller and the original recipient.

This would make the caller to hear and see whatever received by the recipient's device microphone, even if they haven’t accepted the call yet. It will look like the other person has joined the group chat, but on the recipient's iPhone, FaceTime will still be ringing.

Nevertheless, there is no indication on the recipient’s side that the caller could hear any of their audio.

The bug is also present when an iPhone calls a Mac computer.

Apple disabled FaceTime
To fix the issue, Apple temporarily disabled FaceTime

Making things worse, the bug can also tap on the recipient's device's camera.

Once the 'fake' conference call happens, if the recipient presses the power or volume button to ignore the call, the bug not only broadcasts audio, but video as well.

From their perspective, all they can see is still the accept and decline screen.

The news have spread and went viral on social media, with people complaining about this issue.

In response, a spokesperson from the company said: "We’re aware of this issue and we have identified a fix that will be released in a software update later this week."

Apple has taken the Group FaceTime offline to prevent users in making use of this bug.

On the company's status page, Apple indicates that the feature is "temporarily unavailable."

The issue was so serious that famous figures, and also Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey weighed in and urged people to disable FaceTime until Apple came up with a fix.