iPhone users were urged to immediately disable FaceTime after the discovery of a bug that allows callers to listen in and permitting them to see through front-facing cameras.
And that’s all without the user even picking up the call.
Tech site 9to5Mac flagged the privacy fiasco on Monday before it made national headlines and captured the attention of New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D), who issued a consumer alert in response:
Wow, NY Governor Cuomo issues statement on FaceTime issue pic.twitter.com/ECWBp7AbXS
– Mark Gurman (@markgurman) January 29, 2019
According to The Verge, the bug, which affects phones running 12.1.2, works like this: First, one party dials another on FaceTime using the Phone app, but before the recipient can pick up, the caller must swipe up and add their number, forming a group call. The phone, assuming a conference call has started, then allows the caller to listen in on the person being contacted, regardless of whether he or she has answered.
A demonstration of the flaw can be seen in this video:
Now you can answer for yourself on FaceTime even if they don’t answer🤒#Apple explain this.. pic.twitter.com/gr8llRKZxJ
– Benji Mobb™ (@BmManski) January 28, 2019
The bug also occurs on Apple computers running macOS Mojave, CNN reported. Apple has announced plans to make a software update available this week to solve the issue.
News about the bug broke out just hours after Apple CEO Tim Cook tweeted about the importance of data privacy:
We must keep fighting for the kind of world we want to live in. On this #DataPrivacyDay let us all insist on action and reform for vital privacy protections. The dangers are real and the consequences are too important.
– Tim Cook (@tim_cook) January 28, 2019