A bug in Apple’s FaceTime software made it possible for users to listen in on others before the call connected. The loophole was discovered by 14-year-old Grant Thompson, from Tucson, who was trying to organize a Fortnite session with his friends.
If debugging is the process of removing software bugs, then programming must be the process of putting them in
According to The Wall Street Journal, Grant was “setting up a FaceTime chat with friends head of a Fortnite videogame-playing session when he stumbled on the bug”. He realized he could hear audio from others who hadn’t yet joined the call.
Grant immediately related this to his mother, Michele, who then tried to contact Apple to report to them the issue over the course of the next two weeks. After some back and forth on the phone, they eventually traded a few emails with Apple’s security team.
Ultimately, the decision to disable Group Facetime was only made when reports of the bug blew up on Twitter.
How it worked:
- Dial another user
- Swipe up and enter the originating number via the “Add Person” screen before it’s answered
The recipient’s FaceTime app mistakenly thinks that a Group FaceTime conference call is happening, and transmits audio from the recipient’s device even if they didn’t accept the call.
It presents a serious breach of privacy because anyone can turn a target iPhone into a “wiretapped” device.