Apple portrays itself as the champion of customer privacy, and it once went as far as to court in order to fight FBI’s request to unlock the iPhone of a San Bernardino gunman in 2016. While the company has the most potent data privacy practice among all tech companies, its products have sometimes been found to be standing in contrast to that very philosophy. One such product is FaceTime, which allows iPhone users to communicate via video calls. Early in the day, a massive privacy bug on iPhone was discovered which can be exploited to snoop on other iPhone users. It works simply by placing a FaceTime call with any iPhone user running iOS 12.1 or later.
While the call is being placed, the caller needs to swipe up from the bottom of the screen and tap Add Person. Now, add your own phone number in this screen and this will start a group FaceTime call that will include yourself and start playing audio of the person you originally called, even if they haven’t accepted the call yet. This bug lets you listen in on people even if they haven’t picked up their iPhone. The Verge notes that if the receiver of the FaceTime call tries to end it by tapping the power button then it sends video but no audio.
Watch: Apple iPhone XS, iPhone XS Max Hands-On
Unless it is fixed, someone can listen in or see you through your iPhone by exploiting this very bug. Apple has confirmed that a fix is on its way but for the time being, the only way to avoid being snooped by other iPhone users is to disable FaceTime altogether.
How to disable FaceTime on your iOS devices
Step 1: Open Settings
Step 2: Navigate to FaceTime
Step 3: Toggle the button so that FaceTime is disabled or turned off. As a side note, if the toggle shows green then it means FaceTime is active, and if it doesn’t then it means the feature is disabled.
Once you disable the toggle, your iPhone contacts will not be able to contact you via FaceTime. This means nobody can listen in or try to watch you while you are unaware of the happening. Apple has disabled Group FaceTime options and said, “We’re aware of this issue and we have identified a fix that will be released in a software update later this week.”