Tech

Apple Disables Group Chat App After Major Flaw Exposes Users To Privacy Breaches

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Chris White Tech Reporter

Apple temporarily disabled a new group chat application Tuesday after a flaw was detected that exposed users to privacy data breaches.

The Silicon Valley company dinged the Group FaceTime feature in iOS and macOS to fix a major security flaw, which allowed anyone to call a phone or Mac and listen in before the other person picks up. The bug worked when a person added themselves to a two-person call before another recipient picked up the line, thereby tricking FaceTime into thinking it’s an active call and forcing the person on the other line to start transmitting audio.

A customer compares the size of the new iPhone XS and iPhone XS Max at the Apple Store in Singapore September 21, 2018. REUTERS/Edgar Su

A customer compares the size of the new iPhone XS and iPhone XS Max at the Apple Store in Singapore September 21, 2018. REUTERS/Edgar Su

Apple removed the app on the server side and is not working to ding it on the client side. The company suggests disabling FaceTime in the iOS settings. FaceTime can be disabled on a Mac by opening the app, then selecting “Preferences” and unchecking “Enable this account.” New York Governor Andrew Cuomo issued a consumer alert late Tuesday.

“The FaceTime bug is an egregious breach of privacy that puts New Yorkers at risk,” Cuomo said in a press statement attached to the alert. “In light of this bug, I advise New Yorkers to disable their FaceTime app until a fix is made available, and I urge Apple to release the fix without delay.” (RELATED: Amazon’s Alexa Goes Haywire, Tells Customer To ‘Kill Your Foster Parents’)

The glitch comes at an inopportune moment for Apple. The company’s revenue was down 5 percent in 2019 from a year ago to about $84.3 billion.  “We must keep fighting for the kind of world we want to live in. On this #DataPrivacyDay let us all insist on action and reform for vital privacy protections. The dangers are real and the consequences are too important,” CEO Tim Cook tweeted Monday.

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