Watch out for this FaceTime glitch

Call­ers can lis­ten – even if you don’t an­swer.

USA TODAY US Edition - - MONEY - Eli Blu­men­thal

If you have an iPhone or a Mac, you may want to turn off FaceTime: A new bug can let the peo­ple who call you lis­ten to your con­ver­sa­tions even if you don’t an­swer the call.

The bug, which was widely cir­cu­lated on the in­ter­net Mon­day night af­ter be­ing spot­ted by 9to5Mac, is eas­ily ac­ces­si­ble. Those look­ing to ex­ploit the bug sim­ply need to start a FaceTime call, swipe up to add a per­son and en­ter your own phone num­ber. This will cre­ate a group FaceTime call and au­to­mat­i­cally an­swer the call for the first per­son. Both the caller and orig­i­nal re­cip­i­ent will be able to hear one an­other, or if the caller is quiet, al­low them to eaves­drop if the re­cip­i­ent did not hear the orig­i­nal call.

Press­ing the vol­ume or power but­ton on the re­cip­i­ent’s iPhone, which is usu­ally used to si­lence or dis­miss an in­com­ing call, will also turn on the cam­era with this glitch, al­low­ing the caller to ac­ti­vate your cam­era – though do­ing this will dis­able the au­dio.

USA TO­DAY was able to recre­ate the bug on mul­ti­ple iPhones run­ning ver­sions of iOS 12.1 on de­vices rang­ing from the iPhone 6 to the iPhone XR. We were also able to recre­ate it on a MacBook Pro, al­low­ing the iPhone to lis­ten in to the Mac run­ning the lat­est ver­sion of Mac OS Mo­jave.

We were not able to test the bug on an iPad run­ning iOS 12.1, but those who have Ap­ple’s tablets may want to ex­er­cise cau­tion un­til a fix ar­rives.

In a state­ment pro­vided to USA TO­DAY and other me­dia out­lets, Ap­ple says it is “aware of this is­sue, and we have iden­ti­fied a fix that will be re­leased in a soft­ware up­date later this week.”

Twit­ter quickly filled with users shar­ing their con­cerns and with videos repli­cat­ing the bug.

The bug seems to ex­ploit Group FaceTime, a fea­ture Ap­ple added in iOS 12 last year to al­low for mul­ti­ple peo­ple to FaceTime to­gether. When tried on an iPhone run­ning iOS 11.3, which doesn’t have Group FaceTime sup­port, the bug did not work.

Late Mon­day night, the Ap­ple Sys­tem Sta­tus page showed that Group FaceTime was un­avail­able, with the fea­ture re­main­ing un­avail­able Tues­day. In our own test, USA TO­DAY con­firmed that the com­pany has ap­peared to have turned off the Group FaceTime fea­ture. Now when some­one at­tempts to turn a reg­u­lar FaceTime call into a group call, the orig­i­nal FaceTime call dis­con­nects en­tirely.

Reg­u­lar one-on-one FaceTime calls are still work­ing, though they did not ap­pear to be ex­ploitable by this bug.

Users can turn off FaceTime on their iOS 12 iPhones and iPads in the in­terim by go­ing to Set­tings, scrolling to FaceTime and click­ing it to the “off ” po­si­tion. Those on a Mac run­ning Mo­jave can dis­able FaceTime by open­ing the FaceTime app, click­ing “FaceTime” in the up­per left cor­ner and then click­ing “Turn FaceTime off ” from that drop down win­dow.


Ap­ple CEO Tim Cook ap­pears through his Me­moji dur­ing a group FaceTime call at the World­wide De­vel­oper Con­fer­ence in June.

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