How to Protect Yourself Against Apple’s Eavesdropping FaceTime Bug

January 29, 2019, 1:13 PM UTC

Apple is working on a fix to a FaceTime problem that could see people spy on your conversations.

The company acknowledged on Monday that its chatting app FaceTime has a bug that would allow people to call unsuspecting victims and listen in on them before the recipient answers the call. Apple-tracking blog 9to5Mac found that the issue also affects video and could allow people to look at the recipient before they decide to take or ignore the FaceTime chat.

Unsurprisingly, the problem has caused a stir among privacy advocates and those who are simply concerned about being spied on. And Apple responded on Monday evening by turning off FaceTime Group Chatting from the server to effectively kill the bug and render FaceTime chatting useless until Apple launches a fix.

For many, that fix alone would be enough to stop the bug from affecting them. If people can’t call with requests to hold a chat, there’s no way for them to spy on unsuspecting victims. But even then, it’s always good to take matters into your own hands. And once Apple turns the feature back on, there’s no telling whether an update will indeed address the problem.

Therefore, many security experts are recommending people turn off FaceTime in their iOS settings. You can do that by going to your Settings, scrolling down to FaceTime and tapping it, and then toggling it off in that menu. Since the flaw also affects Mac users, you’ll want to open your FaceTime app on the Mac, go to Preferences, and uncheck “Enable this account” to turn it off.

In addition to turning off the affected FaceTime feature, Apple (AAPL) said this week that it’s working on a software update that will fix the bug. The company is planning to release the update later this week.

Until then, it’d be a good idea to keep FaceTime turned off and it’s confirmed that the fix actually works.