Eavesdropping Bug Forces Apple to Disable Walkie-Talkie App

The app contained a vulnerability allowing someone to listen in on your iPhone without consent.
Eavesdropping Bug Forces Apple to Disable Walkie-Talkie App
Image credit: via PC Mag

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Senior Editor
2 min read
This story originally appeared on PCMag

Apple has been forced to disable its Walkie-Talkie app after a vulnerability was discovered that allowed someone to listen in on your iPhone ($749.99 at Verizon Wireless) without consent.

The Walkie-Talkie app was introduced with the roll out of WatchOS 5 last September and allowed FaceTime Audio calls to be carried out in a similar way to talking on a walkie-talkie. However, as TechCrunch reports, even though the app is still present on the Apple Watch, no call will go through if you try and use it today.

Apple was made aware of the vulnerability through its security and privacy support page where reports can be filed. The company isued the following statement to TechCrunch regarding what's happened:

We were just made aware of a vulnerability related to the Walkie-Talkie app on the Apple Watch and have disabled the function as we quickly fix the issue. We apologize to our customers for the inconvenience and will restore the functionality as soon as possible. Although we are not aware of any use of the vulnerability against a customer and specific conditions and sequences of events are required to exploit it, we take the security and privacy of our customers extremely seriously. We concluded that disabling the app was the right course of action as this bug could allow someone to listen through another customer's iPhone without consent. We apologize again for this issue and the inconvenience.

Although only a minor inconvenience for Apple Watch ($399.00 at Walmart) owners, Apple will be keen to close the security hole and allow the Walkie-Talkie app to work again. Back in January, a teenager discovered he could hear the audio from his friends' devices as he added them to a FaceTime group chat. Just like this latest vulnerability, it was possible to listen in without consent. Apple rolled out a fix a few weeks later, but we were all left wondering how secure iOS is. On today's evidence, there's still some holes.

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