Despite iOS 12 being all about those refinements (gone well that), one stand out feature was of course Group FaceTime. Then came delays upon launch, then it finally launched as part of 12.1, but we think it’s fair to say, it hasn’t quite gone that well. The service itself, is actually very decent, it’s fairly seamless to chat with a large group of people over a video call, great, but it’s something else that’s come out recently that’s put a big damper on the situation.
If you somehow haven’t heard about this bug, it’s pretty severe. The FaceTime bug allows any person to call someone else over FaceTime, then whilst the Call has yet to be answered, if they enter their own phone number as an additional number, they’re automatically able to hear the other end, without them even answering!
In some cases, for example, if the user was to reject the Call using the Lock button, video would be visible as well … yeah, that’s a pretty darn serious bug!
Apple’s temporary “fix”
Despite Twitter users claiming to have reported the issue to Apple weeks back, Apple did one thing straight away once it became mainstream, and pulled all Group FaceTime servers. Right now, whether you’re on iOS 12.1.0 to the latest iOS 12.1.3, you can still make and receive FaceTime Calls, but just the one Call, meaning the bug itself should not be possible, as it uses a bug involving adding an additional member to the Call.
Apple have also made it clear that versions of iOS 12.1 through 12.1.3 will never get Group FaceTime servers working for them, as a protective measure against it, and as a precaution, versions of macOS Mojave will be the same.
Apple statement, and “full” fix delayed a week!
We have fixed the Group FaceTime security bug on Apple’s servers and we will issue a software update to re-enable the feature for users next week. We thank the Thompson family for reporting the bug. We sincerely apologize to our customers who were affected and all who were concerned about this security issue. We appreciate everyone’s patience as we complete this process.
We want to assure our customers that as soon as our engineering team became aware of the details necessary to reproduce the bug, they quickly disabled Group FaceTime and began work on the fix. We are committed to improving the process by which we receive and escalate these reports, in order to get them to the right people as fast as possible. We take the security of our products extremely seriously and we are committed to continuing to earn the trust Apple customers place in us.
Thanks to opportunists out there, Apple faces a class action lawsuit in Canada over the bug, as well as another in Texas, due to people who “claim” Apple was listening in to sensitive conversations. Whilst Apple can’t deny these were the cases, we’d be very interested looking in their Call history, just in case, as you know what the world is like. Don’t get us wrong, this is an incredibly serious bug, and such is possible to have happened, but it’s worth noting Apple heard nothing with this bug, it was the Caller, so you would be aware.
Apple did thank the Thompson family, the ones of which reported the bug before it went, more mainstream, let’s say, but as far as Group FaceTime returning, and a fully patched software release, another week will be a thing!
What should you do? Uninstall, burn iPhone, disable FaceTime … no
First thing you should is relax, hard thing in this day and age, but these are your next steps. It’s worth noting, first of all, any FaceTime calls do show up on your Call log, so it’s not like you wouldn’t be able to tell if this had happened to you.
If you do wish to disable FaceTime until it’s fixed, of course we can’t stop you, and, naturally, that will guarantee this will never happen to you, but we don’t feel it necessary as the bug is currently no longer possible due to disabled servers at Apple’s end, but if you do, it’s as simple as this;
iOS: Settings > FaceTime > Toggle the top to Off
Mac: Launch ‘FaceTime’ app > go to Preferences (CMD+,) > untick “Enable this account”
UPDATE: Apple have fixed the bug in iOS 12.2 beta 2, and are expected to roll out a separate update containing those fixes shortly