Grant Thompson and his mother, Michele, look at an iPhone in the family’s kitchen in Tucson, Ariz., on Thursday, Jan. 31, 2019. (AP Photo/Brian Skoloff)

Apple releases update to stop FaceTime eavesdropping

A bug had allowed callers to activate another person’s microphone remotely

Apple has released an iPhone update to fix a software flaw that allowed people to eavesdrop on others while using FaceTime.

The bug enabled interlopers to turn an iPhone into a live microphone while using Group FaceTime. Callers were able to activate another person’s microphone remotely even before the person has accepted or rejected the call.

Apple turned off the group-chat feature last week, after a 14-year-old boy in Tucson, Arizona, discovered the flaw. The teenager, Grant Thompson, and his mother said they unsuccessfully tried to contact the company about the problem for more than a week. Apple has been criticized for the delay in responding and has promised to improve procedures.

The FaceTime repair is included in the latest version of Apple’s iOS 12 system, which became available to install Thursday.

Although the FaceTime bug has now been addressed, its emergence is particularly embarrassing for Apple. The bug exposed Apple customers to potential surveillance at a time that CEO Tim Cook has been repeatedly declaring that personal privacy is a “fundamental human right.”

Cook also has publicly skewered Facebook and Google, two companies that collect personal information to sell advertising, for not doing enough to protect people’s privacy.

Apple credited Thompson for discovering the FaceTime bug as part of its software update, nearly a week after thanking him for reporting the bug in the first place.

As often occurs when people flag software flaws, Thompson will be rewarded for his sleuthing. Apple plans to contribute to Thompson’s college fund in addition to paying a bounty to him and his family for reporting the bug. The company, which has $245 billion in cash, isn’t disclosing the amounts.

Michael Liedtke, The Associated Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Community of Vavenby weekly news update

Vavenby fire chief asks Doris Scarff to paint two murals on the inside walls of fire hall

Blue River Powder Packers blocked from accessing popular riding areas

Snowmobile tourism group loses revenue over lack of notice from logging activity

Back in Time

Historical Perspective

Tourism Wells Gray to benefit from new provincial funding

Funds provided to help further develop tourism opportunities and bring new visitors to the area

First presumptive case of coronavirus identified in the Interior Health region

The woman, in her 30s, travelled from Shanghai and lives in the interior

VIDEO: 7 things you need to know about the 2020 B.C. budget

Surplus of $227 million with big spending on infrastructure and capital projects

New highway proposed between Alberta and B.C.

The route would connect Red Deer to Kamloops

What’s in a name? The story of Revelstoke’s Mt. Begbie

It’s likely the iconic peak had several Indigenous peoples’ names before settlers arrived

Budget 2020: B.C. Liberals blast ‘Netflix tax,’ lack of economic plan

ICBC rates still go up, except in election year, Shirley Bond says

Teen snowmobiler from Kelowna found after air force’s overnight search

The teen had been missing since just after 6 p.m. on Monday

Two law enforcement trucks ‘deliberately’ set on fire in northern B.C., RCMP say

Police say they have video evidence of a person in the area of the truck fires

Nanaimo man wins lotto, plans to buy $16,000 fridge

Curtis Wright a winner in Lotto 6/49 draw

Three protesters arrested after blocking driveway at premier’s home

Protestors claimed they would make a citizen’s arrest of the Premier, according to West Shore RCMP

Budget 2020: B.C. adds tax to sweet drinks and sodas

All soda, vending machine drinks will be subject to higher PST

Most Read