Geeks2U Promise
We guarantee you'll love our fast, friendly service - or we'll refund your money.  
133,572 Happy Customers & Counting
Need tech support?
1300 769 448
Extended hours, 7 days a week
Home  /  geekspeak  /  Apple’s Facetime bug is a reminder that software is fallible, but updates are crucial

Apple’s Facetime bug is a reminder that software is fallible, but updates are crucial

Apple is a company that prides itself on the security of its products. Apple has a lot to lose as one of the world’s biggest tech companies. It prides itself on having a lot of control given it produces a complete set of technology. That’s both the operating system software and hardware it all runs on, whether you’re talking an iPhone or a Mac.

It must have been embarrassing, then, for a major flaw to emerge in the company Facetime video calling service. The bug exploited a flaw in its group calling service.

Group calling allows you to call more than one person, as you’d expect.

If you started a group call and added yourself (along with 1 other person) to the call you could listen to everyone’s microphones, even if they hadn’t picked up the call!

To make matters worse, under certain circumstances, the video camera on some system could be viewed, again without the second caller actually agreeing to take the call.

If you have your iPhone or Mac with volume enabled you’d spot an incoming Facetime request. Not so much if you had your device on silent, or you were away from it.

To make matters even worse, Apple was reportedly told about the flaw some time ago. 9to5Mac reported that a concerned mother tried to contact Apple about the flaw some time before knowledge of it became widespread. Apple didn’t take them seriously.

That’s a huge black eye for Apple in the security stakes, because it could have patched away the issue well before the exploit itself became public.

Once it had become publicised, Apple yanked the Group Facetime servers offline, and it says it’s tested internally to patch the flaw.

A software update, due to appear at some point this week should disable the flaw on iOS and macOS devices, as well as re-enable Group Facetime calls.

The reality here — and what we, as consumers can learn about security as a result — is that modern application software is very complex stuff, built by fallible human beings.

No software, anywhere is 100% free from bugs, but what effect those bugs may have can vary. Some may cause crashes. Some may cause weird screen effects, and some — like the Facetime bug — may cause genuine security worries.

This bug was particularly troublesome in that, unless you’d already specifically disabled Facetime because you never used it, regular users would have done nothing “wrong”.

They left nothing insecure. Yet they still could have had their privacy compromised.

So what can you do? While it’s a scary situation, it’s also a reminder of why it’s a very good idea to make sure that you’re up-to-date with security releases and patches for your operating system, whether you’re an Apple Mac/iPhone user, or indeed more of a Windows/Android user.

There’s good sense in waiting on major operating system updates — again, because of the potential of crippling bugs in early software.

When patches relate to issues within that software, as Apple’s Facetime update is sure to, it’s smart to keep yourself up-to-date.

It’s likely that Apple will aggressively push the update to fix Facetime out with a lots of pop-up windows reminding you to upgrade.

You can take matters into your own hands by checking regularly for software updates.

On Macs, click on the Apple symbol, then App Store, and then on updates. On iOS devices, open Settings, then General, then Software Update. As long as you’ve got an active Internet connection, you’ll be informed if there are relevant updates to install.

Share

Recent News

Generally speaking, when there’s an important update for your notebook, it’s a decent idea to install it. It may not be an update that makes an immediate obvious new feature available. Instead it may work behind the scenes to add layers of security, fix bugs or improve general performance. It’s why for the most part… More 

Samsung has long pitched its “Note” line of larger smartphones as being perfect for folks with a productivity focus for their smartphone work. A few years ago, it introduced a specific desktop dock for its Note and Galaxy S class phones, the DeX dock. Drop a qualifying Samsung phone into a DeX dock, and what… More 

For most of us, buying a new laptop is a matter of expediency, not outright tech desire. We’ll make do for as long as possible on an older system until it simply isn’t economical — or sometimes feasible — to continue working with it or repairing it. When that happens, market figures suggest that most… More 

Apple recently made some pretty large changes to its line of MacBook laptops. In recent years there’s been an array of choices, from the very small “MacBook” through the MacBook Air and MacBook Pro lines. Some of these had the newer butterfly keyboards and Apple’s own Touch Bar sensor, while others didn’t. If you didn’t… More