Apple promises fix for FaceTime bug that allows callers to eavesdrop

29 Jan 2019357 Views

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Incoming call on a phone. Image: AR_twork/Depositphotos

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News of the bug spread virally on social media and is now an Apple pain in the FaceTime.

A major bug has been discovered in Apple’s FaceTime video calling software that lets you hear the audio of the person you are calling before they even pick up.

The bug was originally reported by 9to5Mac.com, and a video posted on Twitter by @BmManski revealing how easy it was to take advantage of the flaw and listen in on an iPhone was viewed more than 2.9m times and retweeted more than 21,000 times at the time of writing (29 January).

Apple has responded by taking Group FaceTime completely offline and said a fix for the bug is coming this week.

How the FaceTime bug works

The bug is believed to affect any pair of iOS devices running iOS 12.1 or later.

It allows a person who is dialling another person to see and hear who is receiving the call, while the latter only hears it ringing. This would enable eavesdroppers to hear soundbites of conversations without those on the other end knowing they can be heard.

Another problem is that if a user presses the power button from the lock screen, video is also sent to the caller without their knowledge. All the user knows at the other end of the call is that a call is coming in and that they can either accept or decline.

The problem here is that if it is a Mac you are calling, the ring time lasts longer than a phone, turning the computer into a pretty sophisticated bug.

Until Apple issues an update to fix the problem later this week, users may be wise to disable FaceTime in their iOS settings.

Apple has said it is aware of the issue and has “identified a fix that will be released in a software update later this week”.

Incoming call on a phone. Image: AR_twork/Depositphotos

Editor John Kennedy is an award-winning technology journalist.

editorial@siliconrepublic.com