Nasty FaceTime bug could allow others to eavesdrop on your microphone or camera

Update: Apple has disabled the group calling feature.

You might want to turn off FaceTime for a few days.

A newly discovered bug in iOS allows FaceTime callers to listen in before you accept the call.

Word of the bug started spreading this morning after Chicago artist Benji Mobb demonstrated it in a tweet, later being spotted by 9to5Mac.

The bug relies on what appears to be a nasty logic screwup in FaceTime’s group call system. While we’re opting to not outline the steps here, the bug seems to trick the recipient’s phone into thinking a group call is already ongoing. A few quick taps, and FaceTime immediately trips over itself and inexplicably fires up the recipient’s microphone without them actually accepting the call.

Weirder yet: If the recipient presses the volume down button or the power button to try to silence or dismiss the call, their camera turns on as well. Though the recipient’s phone display continues showing the incoming call screen, their microphone/camera are streaming.

TechCrunch has verified this bug on multiple iPhones running iOS 12.1.2. We reached out to Apple for insight on the issue, and a spokesperson for the company responded:

We’re aware of this issue and we have identified a fix that will be released in a software update later this week.

So they know, and are working on it — but in the meantime, the quickest fix might be to disable FaceTime (Settings > FaceTime).

This is a pretty awful bug for Apple, which has been highlighting its privacy practices as a key differentiator. Just weeks ago, they flew this banner on a building directly across from the CES convention center:

Photo credit: David Becker/ Stringer (Getty)