Apple FaceTime Bug Allows Callers to Hear and See Before People Answer

Wednesday, 30 Jan, 2019

The bug first became public knowledge on Monday, prompting Apple to temporarily disable the Group FaceTime feature.

In turns out there is a serious issue with FaceTime that allows you to listen in, or even view video, from a recipient's iPhone without that person ever answering the FaceTime call. This is how it works: you video call another iPhone user via FaceTime, then swipe up to open the menu options before the call has been answered. Until it can offer a permanent fix, Apple says it has simply disabled group FaceTime calls altogether. The company also said the bug would be fixed in a software update this week. At this point in time, disabling FaceTime or immediately dismissing FaceTime calls appear to be the only protection against snooping.

With the bug, a FaceTime user calling another iPhone, iPad or Mac computer could hear audio - even if the receiver did not accept the call.

A mother and son from Arizona tried to warn Apple about the eavesdropping FaceTime bug over a week ago.

Essentially, if you started a FaceTime with one of your contacts and then added your own number to the "Add Person" box, you could hear the phone audio from the person you originally called before they even pick up. 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.

New York Governor Cuomo issued a consumer alert warning to residents of New York about this bug.

Later, BuzzFeed reported that they could also access the front facing camera and that Apple stated that they are "aware of this issue and we have identified a fix that will be released in a software update later this week". Meanwhile, in an iOS security overview document from a year ago, the company stated, "Only Apple can provide this comprehensive approach to security, because we create products with integrated hardware, software, and services". This is apparently exactly the case with iOS, as users recently uncovered a bug in the operating system that allows FaceTime users to listen to microphone audio from any user without their actual permission.