Apple disables Group FaceTime after major security flaw

The Apple logo is displayed at the Apple store in the Brooklyn borough of New York

The Apple logo is displayed at the Apple store in the Brooklyn borough of New York

The bug allowed users to add someone to a FaceTime group call and, even if the recipient didn't accept the call, give them access to hear everything from the recipients microphone. 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.

Apple added multi-person FaceTime calling at the end of a year ago via a software update that was, in part, created to address previous software bugs.

The problem appears to affect devices running iOS 12.1 or later, and while Apple is yet to produce a proper fix, the company has disabled group FaceTime server-side, but it's not clear that this completely resolves the issue. In the event the recipient hits the power or volume button to ignore the incoming call, for some reason FaceTime will also broadcast footage taken from the device's camera, the publication said. Group FaceTime was introduced on October 30, and according to the Verge, the flaw "could have been exploited for as long as three months". As the bug details went viral, Apple is now disabling Group FaceTime feature to stop people from exploiting the bug.

It is possible even if the recipient does not answer the call.

You can always enable FaceTime again once Apple has rolled out an update with the necessary fix.

If you value your privacy, you should seriously consider turning off FaceTime on your iPhone or iPad.

The Cupertino, Calif. -based company was not immediately available to comment on the update on its system status page.

The incident also comes ahead of Apple releasing its latest round of financial results, with investors bracing for bad news after Mr Cook issued a warning in January over falling iPhone sales in China, which he said would impact the company's revenue.

On Monday, as news of the bug finally gained widespread attention, Ms Thompson wrote: "I have letters, emails, tweets and msgs. sent to Apple for 10+ days reporting the Group FaceTime bug that lets someone listen in". Apple has promised to issue a permanent fix "later this week", according to 9to5Mac.

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