Bug lets iPhone users eavesdrop on people

The release of Apple's Group FaceTime calling feature was delayed a number of months due to software bugs. Apple-tracking blog 9to5Mac found that the issue also affects video and could allow people to look at the recipient before they decide to take or ignore the FaceTime chat.

The bug in the FaceTime software will allow a caller to listen in on the audio from the recipient's end even if the call hasn't been received.

According to CNN, Apple released a statement Monday night confirming it has identified a fix for the problem.

Unless you're comfortable with people discreetly listening in on your most private conversations (it's okay, I talk about the movie Face Off with my cat, too), you should disable FaceTime right now on any supported devices.

Apple's online support page noted there was a technical issue with the application and that Group Facetime "is temporarily unavailable".

The bug appears to be present on iPhones and iPads running iOS 12.1, and Apple PCs running macOS Mojave. Bloomberg reports that users need to launch a conference call, input their phone number and then add the number of an additional person. 9to5Mac and others have also reported methods for activating the receiver's video since the initial exploit was discovered.

But in practice, at least until Apple updates the app and you've downloaded the patch, the only way to be sure this bug can't be triggered is to disable the app yourself.

He commented: "The FaceTime bug is an egregious breach of privacy that puts New Yorkers at risk".

You might want to turn off FaceTime for a few days.

To turn FaceTime off on a Mac open the FaceTime app, select "FaceTime" at the top of the screen then choose "Turn FaceTime Off". In its iOS 12.1 security document from last November, Apple called iOS "a major leap forward in security for mobile devices".

On an iPhone or iPad, head to Settings FaceTime and toggle FaceTime off.