Serious FaceTime Bug Lets You Hear a Person's Audio Before They Answer [Update: And See Video]

Discussion in ' News Discussion' started by MacRumors, Jan 28, 2019.

  1. MacRumors macrumors bot


    Apr 12, 2001

    There's a major bug in FaceTime right now that lets you connect to someone and hear their audio without the person even accepting the call.

    This bug is making the rounds on social media, and as 9to5Mac points out, there are major privacy concerns involved. You can force a FaceTime call with someone and hear what they're saying, perhaps even without their knowledge.

    We tested the bug at MacRumors and were able to initiate a FaceTime call with each other where we could hear the person on the other end without ever having pressed the button to accept the call. To exploit the bug, all you have to do is add your own phone number to a FaceTime call you've already initiated, which apparently creates a major FaceTime issue.

    These are the steps:

    1. Initiate a FaceTime call with someone.
    2. While the call is ringing, swipe up from the bottom of the display.
    3. Tap on the "Add Person" button.
    4. Add your own phone number when it asks for the number of the person to add.

    Adding your own phone number to Group FaceTime a second time causes the call between both parties to connect. You can hear the person on the other end and they can hear you, even though the call wasn't accepted.

    What it looks like when you initiate a Group FaceTime call using this bug. With this screen up, you can hear the audio of the person on the other end.​

    When you force a connection this way, your screen looks like a standard Group FaceTime call sans video, but on the other person's screen, it still looks like the call hasn't been accepted.

    This is what it looks like for the person you're FaceTiming. They can't tell their audio is accessible.​

    For this reason, the other person can't necessarily tell that you're listening in to their audio, which has huge privacy implications, especially because the ringing stops as soon as the bug is initiated. We were able to get this to work on various iOS devices running iOS 12.1.3 and iOS 12.2, and on a Mac running the latest version of macOS Mojave.

    There appears to be no way to avoid this bug short of disabling FaceTime on iOS and macOS entirely, so it's likely Apple will implement a fix quickly. This bug is an audio only bug, so the person FaceTiming you does not get access to your video feed.

    We do not recommend or condone following these above steps to invade on other peoples' privacy, and we are sharing them only so MacRumors readers can be aware of the issue to protect themselves.

    Update: As The Verge points out, you can also covertly see someone's video. If you follow the steps above and the person on the other end presses the power button on their device to make the call go away, it activates their video. Once their video is activated, all sound is muted, so there is no indication on their end that their video is visible to a third-party person who has FaceTimed them.

    The video above demonstrates the issue and how easy it is to execute with just a few taps in the FaceTime app.

    Update 2: Apple appears to have temporarily addressed the issue by disabling Group FaceTime calls server side. On Apple's System Status page, Group FaceTime is now listed as unavailable.

    Article Link: Serious FaceTime Bug Lets You Hear a Person's Audio Before They Answer [Update: And See Video]
  2. cmaier macrumors G5

    Jul 25, 2007
  3. stukdog macrumors 6502

    Oct 20, 2004
    I just tested it. To make matters worse, the original FaceTime call stops ringing when you add yourself a second time. If you’re fast enough, the first person wouldn’t even notice.
  4. motm95 macrumors regular

    Aug 19, 2010
  5. smorrissey macrumors 65816

    Mar 12, 2015
  6. yaxomoxay macrumors 68030


    Mar 3, 2010
  7. Braderunner macrumors 6502a

    Oct 2, 2015
  8. martyjmclean macrumors 6502


    Jan 24, 2018
    Sydney, NSW, Australia
    Apple is really letting QC slide lately... But tbf nobody is adding themselves to a FaceTime call they're already in so I can see why it was missed.
  9. stylinexpat macrumors 65816


    Mar 6, 2009
    Question is if it continues to show it ringing or not on the other side..
  10. anticipate macrumors 6502


    Dec 22, 2013
    Didn’t work for me. I tried with a friend a few times following the steps
  11. archvile macrumors 6502


    Oct 27, 2007
    Do you initiate this with FaceTime Video or FaceTime audio?
  12. arn macrumors god


    Staff Member

    Apr 9, 2001
    The person you are calling still has the someone would like to FaceTime screen, even though no more ringing.

    Facetime Video. Haven't tested Audio.
  13. costica1234 macrumors member

    May 21, 2013
    I tried and it worked... This is unbelievable :/. I will disable FaceTime as of now.
  14. ghostface147 macrumors 68030


    May 28, 2008
    Hilarious bug. What’s with all this beta testing and public beta testing and this stuff goes through? Yeah yeah...QC.
  15. HiVolt macrumors 6502a


    Sep 29, 2008
    Toronto, Canada
    Wow, horrible! Even though I don't use it, I'm disabling it right now until a fix is on.
  16. Scooz macrumors 6502

    Apr 9, 2012
  17. citysnaps macrumors 601

    Oct 10, 2011
    San Francisco
    You may not understand that despite loads of QC, beta testings, etc, software bugs still manage to slip through under the right set of conditions and circumstances. Especially with respect to complex software.

    I've yet to see 100% perfection. From anyone.
  18. EM2013 macrumors 68000


    Sep 2, 2013
    What’s the purpose of going through 6-7 betas and stuff like this goes unnoticed.
  19. hugodrax macrumors 6502a

    Jul 15, 2007
    Ooops NSA technical surveillance feature set accidentally exposed. Bugfix will fix it soon.
  20. Ankou_Sabat macrumors regular


    Nov 17, 2015
    Good thing Apple's moving to a "services" company ;)
  21. samcraig macrumors P6

    Jun 22, 2009
  22. 12vElectronics macrumors 68040


    Jul 19, 2013
  23. pika2000 macrumors 601

    Jun 22, 2007
  24. Shearwater macrumors regular


    Jul 20, 2011
    Leeds , West Yorkshire
  25. meaning-matters macrumors 6502


    Dec 13, 2013
    Wouldn't call this serious as it doesn't affect many people, doesn't destroy data, ...

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