You may have heard about the security flaw with Apple’s FaceTime that allows you to hear the audio of the person you are calling (FaceTiming) before they pick up the call…
While this is only an issue with the “Group Call” FaceTime feature, the internet has found a wide variety of ways to exploit the bug – not only accessing the microphone, but also the front facing camera, in some instances.
For its part, Apple responded to the barrage of angry users on social media pretty quickly, disabling Group FaceTime until a security patch can be released.
Disable FaceTime Immediately
The security flaw can be exploited on both iOS devices (iPhone, iPad) and on a Mac. Until the software update has been rolled out, the most effective way to protect yourself from would-be eavesdroppers is to disable FaceTime, completely.
How to protect your device from the FaceTime security flaw:
- Disable FaceTime On iOS (iPhone, iPad, iPod)
Click on Settings.
Scroll until you see FaceTime and click on it.
Touch the green button on the top to toggle FaceTime off.
- Disable FaceTime On Mac
Open the FaceTime App.
Click on FaceTime in the menu bar on top of the screen.
Select “Turn off Facetime.”
As of right now, a security patch is still being developed. You can keep an eye on Apple’s System Status page for updates on the FaceTime issue.
Keep in mind: this is just one of many security vulnerabilities in our every day lives. It’s easy to become lazy or thoughtless about the way you use technology; after all, it exists to make life easier for us. Practicing good digital hygiene is as important a habit as brushing your teeth. A little bit of awareness, good password habits, and a pinch of paranoia can go a long ways towards protecting your identity online and offline.
FaceTime is ON By Default
It’s worth noting that I never use FaceTime. I’m a die-hard Samsung Android user (currently rockin a Samsung Galaxy S9 Edge +) and for personal use – mostly on the treadmill – we use a Samsung Galaxy Tablet. We’re also a family of mac users, and I keep a couple of iPads around for development purposes. I made the assumption that since I never use FaceTime, I wouldn’t need to turn it off. I’d never turned it on to begin with, right?
Apparently, FaceTime is on, by default. Now, I won’t go so far as to say I was shocked by this, but I was appropriately irritated. If nothing else, it served to be a good reminder for me – and for my family, as I audit each of their devices: The vast majority of tech in our homes comes from the factory set up to gather data about users. We, as consumers, need to remain vigilant about what we’re willingly giving the hardware we take for granted. This is especially true as it relates to the devices we allow our children to use.
As the brilliant Kurt Cobain said, “Just because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean they aren’t after you.”