Apple has formally acknowledged the Facetime error and apologized that bad actors could spy on you with just a few simple steps. While it promised a fix for this week, this fix is delayed until next week.
Group Facetime is a great way to talk to your family and friends at once, but unfortunately, as we learned earlier this week, it was also such an easy way to spy on people. All you had to do was make a face-time call, then swipe up from the bottom of the screen, tap Add Person, and add your own phone number. Although your destination does not respond, the Facetime group will immediately connect while the end is ringing.
Apple has made the following statement to MacRumors:
We have resolved the Group FaceTime security bug on Apple's servers and will do so by issuing a software update to re-enable the feature for users next week. We thank the Thompson family for reporting the error. We apologize to all concerned customers and anyone who cares about this security issue. We value the patience of all as we complete this process.
We want to assure our customers that once our engineering team has learned the details needed to reproduce the error, Group FaceTime has been quickly disabled and the correction started. We are committed to improving the process by which we receive and escalate these reports to get them to the right people as soon as possible. We take the security of our products very seriously and are committed to continuing to earn the trust that Apple customers place in us.
Although it is good that Apple takes precautions like disabling Group Facetime on its servers, one would hope that fix for such a serious problem could be published much earlier. Now you can only wait for the update to hit your devices, and for added security, disable Facetime.
On an iPhone or iPad, go to Settings> FaceTime and turn FaceTime off. You must repeat this process on all your devices, for example, if you have both an iPhone and an iPad.
To disable FaceTime on a Mac, open the FaceTime app and select FaceTime> Turn FaceTime Off. You must repeat this step on all your Macs.