IPhone FaceTime Bug Reportedly Allows Eavesdropping 28 January 2019

Marion JacobsJan 30, 2019

Multiple tech outlets reported Monday on a bug that allows iPhone users to listen in on the person they're calling via FaceTime, without the recipient accepting the call.

Anyone can call you on FaceTime and hear audio or see video from your phone before you answer.

According to reports, people can eavesdrop on your conversations even if you decide not to answer the call. The company told Reuters that it was aware of the problem and would release a software update "later this week".

9to5Mac report states that it reproduced the FaceTime bug with an iPhone X calling an iPhone XR, but it claims that the bug could affect any pair of iOS devices running iOS 12.1 or later.

In the meantime, Apple has apparently disabled the Group Facetime feature entirely, preferring to inflict a service outage than to leave the exploitable privacy hole gaping open.

If the receiver happens to use the power button to decline the call, it activates the device's camera, allowing you to watch what is happening at the other end. The person who initiated the call is then able to hear the live audio on the other person's phone, even though the recipient has not accepted the call.

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The issue occurs when a user phones someone using FaceTime, then swipes to add another person to the call and adds their own number. If the recipient of the call hits the right side button or the volume button to ignore the call, video from their iPhone will be broadcast back to you.

That said, this FaceTime incident is a serious blow to Apple's carefully constructed image of the champion of privacy.

In addition to turning off the affected FaceTime feature, Apple (aapl) said this week that it's working on a software update that will fix the bug.

Alternatively on an iPhone or iPad select "Settings", then "FaceTime" after which you can turn off the green toggle at the top of the screen.

Apple has not yet commented, other than to say it will push a fix out to users in the coming days.

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