Apple has released iOS 12.1.4 for the iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch.
The update includes a long-awaited and important fix for a serious bug in Apple’s Group FaceTime software that allowed users to eavesdrop on the audio of a person they were calling before that person picked up the phone.
The bug was first discovered last week by a teenager and Apple said a patch was on the way, however, it wouldn’t be ready until several days later.
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Apple has released iOS 12.1.4 for the iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch. The update includes a long-awaited and important fix for a serious bug in Apple’s Group FaceTime software
HOW TO UPDATE
Apple has now issued iOS 12.1.4, promising a fix for the serious Group FaceTime bug.
The flaw allowed anyone to eavesdrop on another user’s microphone or camera by initiating a Group FaceTime call.
To get the update, go into Settings > General.
Tap Software Update.
Then press Download and Install for iOS 12.1.4.
In a description of the update, Apple notes that the flaw was discovered by 14-year-old Grant Thompson of Catalina Foothills High School.
Thompson, along with his mother, Michele, tried to report the bug to Apple but said they struggled to get the company’s attention until the problem gained traction on social media.
Apple disabled the Group FaceTime feature as it worked to resolve the bug.
It remains unclear just how long users were able to take advantage of the flaw, which allowed people to eavesdrop on another user’s microphone or camera by initiating a fake Group FaceTime call.
With the update, users can make a Group FaceTime call again.
Apple said it found a fix last week and also announced it would improve how it handles reports of software bugs after Thompson and his mother tried for days to warn Apple of 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,’ an Apple spokesperson said in a statement to Dailymail.com.
Craig Federighi, Apple’s senior vice president of Software Engineering, speaks about group FaceTime. Apple says it has fixed the internal bug that led to people being able to eavesdrop on others while using its group video chat feature, called Group FaceTime
‘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,’ the spokesperson added.
Last week, Apple said it would fix the eavesdropping bug and disable Group FaceTime as its engineers worked to fix the issue.
Apple also thanked the Thompson family for reporting the problem.
Apple said it has fixed the Group FaceTime bug on its servers and will turn on the feature for users again next week. The bug was first discovered by a 14-year-old while playing Fortnite
Thompson told Reuters TV he was trying to chat with his friend while playing a video game when he discovered the bug.
But it took Thompson and his mother, who is an attorney, nine days of phone calls, emails, online postings and even a letter on Michele Thompson’s law firm letterhead before getting a response from Apple, the family said.
Many criticized Apple’s handling of the critical FaceTime security flaw, particularly in light of CEO Tim Cook’s repeated statements around the company’s commitment to user privacy.
Last month, Apple erected a massive billboard in front of the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas touting its user privacy controls that read: ‘What happens on your iPhone, stays on your iPhone.’
The billboard was largely viewed as Apple taking a shot at rivals like Facebook and Google who have faced privacy scandals.
The incident was embarrassing for the technology giant as it was discovered on Data Privacy Day in the US, which Apple’s Tim Cook had tweeted about, calling for ‘vital privacy protections’
The state of New York is now probing Apple’s failure to warn consumers about the bug, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said on Wednesday.
Additionally, Apple now faces a lawsuit from a Houston lawyer who claims the bug resulted in his phone recording a private deposition with one of his clients.
In it, Williams claims that Apple ‘failed to exercise reasonable care’ and that the company ‘knew, or should have known, that its product would cause unsolicited privacy breaches and eavesdropping.’
Williams is now seeking punitive damages against Apple and unknown parties, claiming negligence, product liability, misrepresentation and warranty breach.
HOW DID A TEEN DISCOVER APPLE’S FACETIME BUG?
A teenager from Arizona uncovered a bug that turns iPhones into eavesdropping devices while trying to play a game of ‘Fornite’ with his friends.
Grant Thompson, a 14-year-old high school student in Tucson, wanted to chat with friends when he discovered a major bug in Apple’s popular Group FaceTime feature.
Thompson called his friend Nathan using FaceTime, but Nathan didn’t pick up on January 19.
Thompson then swiped up and added another friend, a move that instantly connected him with Nathan, whose phone was still ringing.
Michele Thompson said she spent days trying to alert the tech giant to the glitch before it announced it was disabling the feature on Tuesday
The youngster had discovered a bug that allowed him to force other iPhones to answer a FaceTime call, even if the other person doesn’t take any action.
Apple has since disabled the ‘Group FaceTime’ feature, and a software update to fix the bug is expected to be released.
Grant’s mother Michele, a lawyer, said she had tried repeatedly to contact Apple about the privacy glitch from the time her son discovered it to the company announcing that it was disabling the feature on Tuesday.
Thompson said she tried everything she could think of to get Apple’s attention. She emailed, called Apple and tweeted CEO Tim Cook and even faxed a letter on her law firm’s letterhead.