[Jan 31 update: Apple sued] Group Facetime (ft) not working after calling bug/exploit comes to light
There are new updates that have been added at the bottom of this story….
After the Apple Facetime (ft) calling bug came to light, now we’re seeing reports that the Group Facetime feature has gone offline. Users are taking to social media platforms like Twitter to reports the issue.
Is other people’s Group FaceTime not working?
— ✨Tirah MAC🌑 (@_T_i_r_a_h_) January 29, 2019
Group FaceTime is not working now 😠
— ♡𝓬𝓮𝓵𝓵𝓲 (@cellibabi) January 29, 2019
So Group FaceTime not working ?
— J.T. 💔 (@D1_finch) January 29, 2019
WHY IS GROUP FACETIME NOT WORKING
— c (@idkcaymi) January 29, 2019
If you check the Apple services status page, you’ll see the company is aware of the outage.
According to some of the media reports, Apple took the feature offline after the Facetime calling bug came to light today. In case you aren’t aware, the bug lets you hear the audio of the person you call even before they pick up a Facetime video call.
Reports on social media also corroborate this:
As I suggested, Apple was able to “solve” the FaceTime problem on the server side. They apparently disabled Group FaceTime. The company has told several media outlets it plans to release a software fix this week. Ostensibly, they can suppress Group FaceTime on unpatched devices. pic.twitter.com/4X742ZQbsM
— Glenn Fleishman (@GlennF) January 29, 2019
It looks like Apple have disabled Group FaceTime calls, which should mitigate this issue until they push a software update.
— The Dork Web (@jsrnz) January 29, 2019
Apple wasted little time in making sure the problem didn’t get out of hand. According to Apple’s System Status page, Group FaceTime, which is the risk, is currently unavailable until iOS update initiated later this week. I have confirmed this with my phone. @whitehatterteam
— Darren Laur, The White Hatter 🇨🇦 (@DarrenLaur) January 29, 2019
Apple has said a fix for the Facetime bug will arrive later this week. It’s, however, not known when exactly this outage will be fixed. We’re keeping a close eye on the situation, and will update this story as and when we have more information on the matter.
Until then, use the comments section below to let us know your Facetime experience currently.
The bug (via 9to5Mac) can be reproduced by making a Facetime video call to someone in your contacts, then tap “Add Person” (after swiping up from bottom) followed by entering your own phone number. A group call is initiated this way and you’d be able to hear the person you called even before they answer the call.
1. Start a FaceTime video call.
2. While it's still ringing, swipe up from the bottom of the screen and click "Add Person."
3. Add your own phone number to the call.
You'll now be able to hear the microphone from the other device, even if the owner is nowhere nearby.
— Andy Baio (@waxpancake) January 29, 2019
— Benji Mobb™ (@BmManski) January 28, 2019
Needless to say, the exploit doesn’t work if the Group Facetime feature is disabled, which is what exactly Apple has done now.
This exploit comes to light just a few weeks after Apple trolled other smartphone manufacturers on privacy. At this year’s CES in Las Vegas, the company had put up billboards saying what happens on your iPhone stays on your iPhone. Now Apple itself is getting trolled for this.
Hey, remember that time @Apple made that privacy themed billboard at CES?
— Gris (@the_gris) January 29, 2019
Update (January 30)
It’s worth mentioning that if the callee presses the power/volume button to ignore the incoming Facetime call, the caller not only gets to hear the audio, but they can see video as well.
Update (January 31)
A Houston lawyer has slapped a lawsuit on Apple over this bug. Suing the Cupertino-based company, the lawyer told Bloomberg that the vulnerability “inadvertently allowed an unknown person to eavesdrop on his private conversation with a client.” More info here.
Elsewhere in New York, Attorney General Letitia James has launched an investigation into the matter over Apple’s failure to warn customers about this Facetime eavesdropping bug as well as the company’s slow response (it came to light that a 14 year old discovered the issue days before media highlighted it and the kid’s mother had informed Apple about the bug through the official channel). Engadget has more in this.
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