A software flaw that allowed Apple FaceTime users to eavesdrop on other users has been acknowledged by the company.
The software vulnerability was first discovered by the 9to5Mac blog, which revealed that the bug affected users running the most recent versions of iOS, beginning with 12.1. Using the software’s group chat function, users were able to fool the software into activating a target users’ microphone – even if the call had not yet been accepted. In some cases, iPhone users were able to listen in on others.
Mac users were also affected by the glitch when they are called from an iPhone, the blog revealed.
Writing on the 9to5Mac blog, Benjamin Mayo highlighted the obvious privacy concerns surrounding the glitch, stating: “The damage potential here is real. You can listen in to soundbites of any iPhone user’s ongoing conversation without them ever knowing that you could hear them.”
Apple said it has developed a fix for the problem and that an update will be released imminently. In a statement, the firm said: “We’re aware of this issue and we have identified a fix that will be released in a software update later this week.”
iPhone users concerned over the bug can take a couple of simple steps to prevent any issues. Through the device ‘settings’, users can access the FaceTime icon and simply switch off the app.
Audio glitches weren’t the only issue picked up on by 9to5Mac. In addition to this initial problem, the blog reported that by pressing buttons to block a call or turn off a device, users could send video to the original call-maker without the recipients’ knowledge.
Apple’s audio bug follows recent efforts by the firm to portray itself as a fervent privacy advocate. At the CES technology expo in Las Vegas earlier this month, the company rented a billboard near the even stating: “What happens on your iPhone, stays on your iPhone.”
In October 2018, CEO Tim Cook also spoke out on a number of high-profile data privacy scandals. Cook insisted that the United States must introduce tougher data protection laws to counter the growing misuse of “deeply personal” data.