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

Controversial Langley condo developer fights extradition on U.S. fraud charge

Mark Chandler’s lawyer argued before the B.C. Court of Appeal Friday to keep him in Canada.

Snowfall warning: 5-10 cm expected in Lower Mainland

The snowfall will start Tuesday and carry on into the evening, before tapering off Wednesday

Snowfall warning issued for Surrey, Langley

Environment Canada warns to ‘be on the lookout for adverse weather conditions and take necessary safety precautions’

Langley playing host to B.C.’s best high school wrestlers

A pair of champion women wrestlers share stories and experience with younger generation.

VIDEO: Winterhawks end Giants winning streak at seven

Playing on home ice in Langley, Vancouver’s G-Men fell 5-3 during a Family Day game against Portland.

‘Our entire municipality is heartbroken’: Seven children die in Halifax house fire

A man and woman remained in hospital Tuesday afternoon, the man with life-threatening injuries

B.C. high school robotics team ranked first in the world for programming

The Surrey team was also named tournament finalists at VEX Robotics Competition on Feb. 1

Man shot dead in front of Kamloops hotel may be case of mistaken identity: RCMP

Rex Gill, 44, was not previously known to Kamloops police unlike second shooting victim

New trial ordered over banning whales, dolphins at Vancouver aquarium

Park board’s appeal reverses previous decision that found it had no right to implement a ban

Payless to close 248 Canadian stores, saying it’s ‘ill-equipped’ for market

The company will begin closing stores at the end of March

Make sure measles shots up to date, Public Health Agency says

Measles causes high fever, coughing, sneezing and a widespread painful rash

Super snow moon set to rise across B.C.

It is the biggest and brightest moon of the year

5 to start your day

IHIT investing South Surrey homicide, B.C.’s budget set to focus on climate change, poverty and more

Minister says plans to fight poverty, climate change, focus of B.C. budget

The NDP said in its throne speech last week that affordability will be the hallmark of its initiatives

Most Read