Facetime bug let you listen in to someone conversations before they picked up your call. It was not long ago that Apple put on a big display overlooking the Las Vegas Convention Center where some 4,500 exhibitors and attendees occupied the 2.8 million square feet space to take part in this year’s Consumer Electronics Show(CES). This was Apple throwing shade on rival tech companies with its ad touting its privacy prowess. Well, this didn’t age well.

What’s with the bug?

Group FaceTime is a feature that was introduced to Apple devices running iOS 12.1. It let you add up to 32 people to a video chat, as long as they had FaceTime. Once you call someone with FaceTime, the bug let you listen in on whatever the other person was saying before the call was picked. This is a huge security flaw especially in this age of always listening devices since the other person doesn’t know whether they’re being listened on.

The FaceTime bug affects any pair of iOS devices running iOS 12.1 or later and MacOS too. This happens when you place a FaceTime call to another iPhone and when you add another person such as yourself while it’s still ringing, you can hear the recipient’s microphone even if they don’t pick up. This tricks FaceTime to think it’s an active call forcing the recipient to start transmitting audio. The FaceTime bug could also give camera access to the person who initiated the call just by pressing the volume-down or volume-up buttons and you get a live video feed through the recipient’s front-facing iPhone camera.

What can I do on my end?

If you’re an iPhone or iPad user, go into the phone’s settings by opening the Settings app then tap FaceTime and toggle off FaceTime to disable this feature. On MacOS, open up the FaceTime app, click on “FaceTime” in the menu bar and then select “Turn FaceTime Off.” You can also choose “Preferences” and toggle off “Enable this account to deactivate FaceTime.”

What is Apple doing?

Apple has temporarily taken Group FaceTime offline on the server side. Some people are however still able to reproduce this flaw as Apple is yet to replicate the temporary fix across multiple servers. On the client side, Apple is slated to issue a software update later this week.


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