Several users have taken to social media to report about a serious bug in Apple's FaceTime video calling app. Apparently, a person can call someone through FaceTime and listen to audio from the other end's microphone feed even if they don't accept the call.
It doesn't take a genius to figure out how something like this poses serious threats to user privacy. Apple has acknowledged the issue and promises to roll out a fix soon.
"We're aware of this issue and we have identified a fix that will be released in a software update later this week," Apple said, as The Verge reports.
Major FaceTime Flaw
It's not yet clear how widespread the issue and which versions of iOS are affected, although it's suspected that the bug occurs on version of iOS that support Group FaceTime calls.
Testing has proved that the problem is present in iOS 12.1.2. The bug is triggered when, while a person is trying to call the recipient via FaceTime, swipes up to add their own phone number to the call. Once the person has added themself, FaceTime seems to assume it's an active conference call and begins transmitting the audio feed of the recipient, even though they haven't accepted the call yet.
Simply put, it's possible that when a person is being called via FaceTime, their audio is being played to the caller even if they don't answer. It gets worse. If a call like this is happening and the recipient hits the volume or power button to ignore the call, the app proceeds to broadcast not just audio but video as well.
Again, it shouldn't be difficult to figure out what kind of implications a bug such as this poses on security. Moreover, it seems like the kind of bug that wouldn't have passed Apple's rigorous testing, and yet here it is.
The bug has since been found to work on Macs, too, not just iPhones. As developer Benjamin Mayo noted on Twitter, this is even more concerning since FaceTime calls on Macs ring much longer, leaving unsuspecting recipients vulnerable to spying for longer periods.
Until Apple rolls out its promised update later this week, the best defense affected users have against this security flaw is probably not using FaceTime for the time being. Make sure to check back with Tech Times as we learn more. For now, though, it might be best to turn off FaceTime calls.