Apple today released a crucial patch for its Group FaceTime eavesdropping bug that set the internet ablaze last week. You should check for the iOS 12.1.4 update on your iPhone or iPad and get it installed now.
The Group FaceTime bug allowed users to activate the device’s mic and even the camera on any device that was in the chat group and listen in before chat participants picked up. The bug stemmed from a logic issue with FaceTime’s group calling feature, one of iOS 12’s marquee features. FaceTime calls are, by the way, encrypted end-to-end.
After numerous reports, Apple pulled the plug on Group FaceTime until it could release a fix.
One week on, the update is now here.
To install the update you can manually check for its availability (if iOS doesn’t prompt you) by going to Settings > General > Software Update. Choose Download and install.
Ensure that your device has at least 50 percent battery life, or better still have it plugged in to a power source.
It’s an important update that provides a crucial security fix so don’t wait, especially if you use FaceTime and its group chat feature. The company also released a supplemented update to macOS Mohave with both updates re-enabling the patched Group FaceTime feature.
Apple touts its security and privacy across its various operating systems, so this is definitely a hiccup. No software or operating system is free of bugs, therefore prompt action and fixes are crucial especially when it involves user privacy.
The Group FaceTime bug was first reported by an Arizona teenager and his mother who warned Apple a week before the issue blew up. Apple could compensate 14-year old Grant Thompson between USD25,000 and USD200,000 if it’s part of the company’s Bug Bounty programme. The company will also be making an additional gift towards Grant’s education.
Apple also formally credited Thompson and Daven Morris from Arlington, Texas in the release notes to iOS 12.1.4 update.
In addition to addressing the reported bug, Apple said it conducted a thorough security audit of the FaceTime service and made additional updates to both the FaceTime app and server to improve security.
The company added that it is planning to improve how it handles reports of software bugs.
More about the security content of iOS 12.1.4 update.