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

Just Posted

Vipers snap Trail Smoke Eaters’ winning streak

Matt Kowalski scores in overtime as Vernon wins fifth straight BCHL game, 3-2

Dream come true: sleep centre opens in Castlegar

Castlegar centre offers consultations and sleep lab tests.

Warning issued after several overdoses in Castlegar

Interior Health says the overdoses appear to be the result of cocaine contaminated with fentanyl.

Castlegar mural defaced with swastika

RCMP do not suspect that the graffiti was the act of a hate group.

Second young woman dies after rollover crash near Williams Lake

‘Someone’s going to get her heart, which is awesome, because she has the best heart in the world’

Google searches for ‘how to vote’ surge on Election Day

Interest spikes despite social media campaign by Elections Canada

Alberta man pleads guilty, fined for hunting without a licence in North Island

It’s the responsibility of each hunter or angler to know whether they are considered a B.C. Resident.

B.C. mayor apologizes for removal of Queen’s portrait from council chambers

‘I prefer to be inclusive of the many aspects of our history’

Alcohol a possible factor in crash that killed 17-year-old girl near Williams Lake

A pickup truck left the road and rolled over on Highway 20 on the weekend

Rare bird spotted in Victoria draws enthusiasts from across the continent

It’s the first time a yellow-browed warbler has been reported on the mainland of North America

B.C. woman must pay $1,000 after unleashed dog bites another

Owner should never have left Bibi unattended, tribunal member wrote

Climate activist Greta Thunberg’s mural defaced in Edmonton

The eyes on the portrait were blacked out

Most Read