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Apple apologises over major iPhone FaceTime snooping bug

Andrew Griffin
Friday 01 February 2019 15:20 GMT
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Apple's senior vice president of Software Engineering Craig Federighi demonstrates group FaceTime as he speaks during the 2018 Apple Worldwide Developer Conference (WWDC) at the San Jose Convention Center
Apple's senior vice president of Software Engineering Craig Federighi demonstrates group FaceTime as he speaks during the 2018 Apple Worldwide Developer Conference (WWDC) at the San Jose Convention Center (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

Apple has apologised over a major FaceTime bug that let people listen in on others' iPhones.

A fix has now been developed and rolled out on Apple's servers, and will be with users through an iOS update next week, it said. That will arrive as a normal iPhone software update.

Until then, users are safe because Apple has turned off the affected group FaceTime feature entirely, stopping anyone conferencing calling.

The apology comes days after it emerged that an issue with group FaceTime calls allowed people to listen in on other phones. In some cases, the bug would even allow users to see video through the phone's camera, entirely without the knowledge of the person on the other end of the call.

The company also thanked the Thompson family, a mother and her son who had discovered the bug and then said they trouble reporting it in to Apple. It said it would improve the process through which such reports could be sent in, and to make sure they are fixed as quickly as possible.

“We have fixed the Group FaceTime security bug on Apple’s servers and we will issue a software update to re-enable the feature for users next week," an Apple spokesperson told The Independent. "We thank the Thompson family for reporting the bug. We sincerely apologize to our customers who were affected and all who were concerned about this security issue.

"We appreciate everyone’s patience as we complete this process."

Despite the delays in getting it fixed, Apple said it had worked quickly to ensure that the problem was shutdown as soon as the problem became clear to the right people.

"We want to assure our customers that as soon as our engineering team became aware of the details necessary to reproduce the bug, they quickly disabled Group FaceTime and began work on the fix," a spokesperson said. "We are committed to improving the process by which we receive and escalate these reports, in order to get them to the right people as fast as possible.

"We take the security of our products extremely seriously and we are committed to continuing to earn the trust Apple customers place in us.”

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