FaceTime flaw lets people hear you, before you even answer

1 min read
Johnny 5

Johnny 5 believes in privacy, freedom from snooping governments, and Batman.

The iPhone incoming call screen, except both the icons say accept. Even the decline one. Nice.

Think twice before cursing that ex who won’t stop calling: A newly found bug in Apple’s FaceTime means someone could dial you and listen to your phone’s microphone—even if you don’t pick up.

In other words, if you see FaceTime ringing on your device, the caller could already be listening to whatever it is you are saying, or doing.

How the FaceTime bug works

Open the FaceTime app and start to call a contact. Before that person picks up, swipe up and add your own phone number to the call.

Once you’re added, FaceTime assumes the connection is an active conference call and starts sending you the audio of whoever you’re calling—even if that person hasn’t picked up.

Worse still, if the recipient of your call hits the power or volume button to ignore you, the victim’s phone will start sending video, too!

Protect yourself from the FaceTime bug

Until Apple resolves the issue, the best option is to turn off FaceTime in your phone or computer’s settings. Here’s how to do that:

How to disable FaceTime on your iOS device

  1. Open the Settings app
  2. Search for FaceTime and tap on the result
  3. Ensure it is switched OFF

How to disable FaceTime on your Mac

  1. Open the FaceTime app on your Mac
  2. Select FaceTime from the menu bar
  3. Click Turn off FaceTime

Apple has temporarily disabled Group FaceTime in response to this flaw, which appears to have fixed the problem for most users. A permanent solution is being promised with a software update this week.

Johnny 5 is the editor of the blog and writes on today's most pressing technology issues. From important cat privacy stories to governments and corporations that overstep their boundaries, Johnny covers it all.