Major FaceTime privacy bug allows unauthorised eavesdropping

The bug affected the microphone and camera of both iPhones and Macs

Apple FaceTime icon

A worrying bug in Apple's FaceTime application has emerged, which allows callers to gain unauthorised access to a recipient's camera and microphone even when the recipient doesn't answer.

In order to eavesdrop on someone via FaceTime, the caller would have to add another person to the call (that other person can be yourself) while ringing the target iPhone which would grant the caller access to the recipient's phone.

Going one step further, it was later discovered that by pressing a volume button after the microphone bug was triggered, FaceTime would then grant access to the recipient's front-facing camera.

The exploit would function even when 'Do Not Disturb' mode was enabled, and the bug affects iPhones running the latest version of iOS.

It's not just iPhones that were affected either. Tests showed that calls from iPhones to Macs which have a longer FaceTime ring also worked, allowing the caller to eavesdrop on the recipient for even longer.

"Technology bugs occur far more often than the average user may think," said Jake Moore, cyber security expert at ESET UK. "Luckily Apple is usually quick to adapt and patch up the flaws. However, we do not know how long this bug has been around for and if it has been taken advantage of by cybercriminals who exploit these vulnerabilities.

Apple has since released an update, as noted on its System Status page. Group FaceTime has been disabled, presumably as a temporary fix while Apple figures out something more permanent.

In a statement, Apple said that it's "aware of this issue and we have identified a fix that will be released in a software update later this week."

Just last week, Apple had to release a patch to its iOS because of a different FaceTime vulnerability which allowed remote hackers to initiate FaceTime calls from a targeted iPhone.

Featured Resources

How to be an MSP: Seven steps to success

Building your business from the ground up

Download now

The smart buyer’s guide to flash

Find out whether flash storage is right for your business

Download now

How MSPs build outperforming sales teams

The definitive guide to sales

Download now

The business guide to ransomware

Everything you need to know to keep your company afloat

Download now

Recommended

Over two-thirds of companies still run software with WannaCry flaw
WannaCry

Over two-thirds of companies still run software with WannaCry flaw

12 May 2021
IT researcher finds widespread flaws in Wi-Fi security
wifi & hotspots

IT researcher finds widespread flaws in Wi-Fi security

12 May 2021
GitHub now supports security keys in a move away from passwords
Security

GitHub now supports security keys in a move away from passwords

12 May 2021
Cyber attacks on manufacturing up 300% in a year
Security

Cyber attacks on manufacturing up 300% in a year

11 May 2021

Most Popular

KPMG offers staff 'four-day fortnight' in hybrid work plans
flexible working

KPMG offers staff 'four-day fortnight' in hybrid work plans

6 May 2021
Dell XPS 17 (2021) review: A big laptop for big jobs
Laptops

Dell XPS 17 (2021) review: A big laptop for big jobs

10 May 2021
16 ways to speed up your laptop
Laptops

16 ways to speed up your laptop

29 Apr 2021