The Apple Watch Walkie-Talkie app has been disabled after Apple found a vulnerability that could let people listen in on other iPhones, the company tells TechCrunch. Apple isn’t aware of the vulnerability having been used, and hasn’t provided any details of how it works beyond saying that “specific conditions and sequences of events are required to exploit it.”
An Apple Watch app vulnerability lets other people listen to another person's iPhone without consent. https://t.co/bvRGCGiPeS
— Rappler (@rapplerdotcom) July 11, 2019
Gavin Millard, VP of intelligence at Tenable:
“This is the second major vulnerability affecting apps based on FaceTime this year, the previous issue disclosed back in January also enabled remote snooping of conversations. Apple are generally good at addressing flaws once discovered, and the proactive approach of disabling the Walkie Talkie app is a quick fix to protect the millions of users affected. Flaws of this nature are incredibly concerning as they could be leveraged for many nefarious purposes, including commercial and political espionage.”
Brian Higgins, Security Specialist at Comparitech.com:
“This is another alarming example of the ‘sell it first and fix it later’ attitude that the major tech firms take towards their consumers. It’s become common business practice to launch unsafe and poorly tested software into the world and companies like Apple are happy to take the reputational hit when users report back to them that they’ve failed to secure their product yet again.
It’s all very well ‘quietly pushing out’ updates but it’s manifestly unfair on the end user to expect them to do the job their providers DevOps teams should be doing for them.
If Apple invested in some DevSecOps for a change, people might feel slightly better about them the next time this happens.”
Boris Cipot, Senior Security Engineer at Synopsys:
“This is a great example of how to deal with security vulnerabilities – not relying on customers doing something or pushing the problem to the user, but taking the responsibility and switching a vulnerable functionality off through an update and notifying the users as to what happened.
Security vulnerabilities and bugs are a fact in software development. Every piece of software can have bugs or security misses, mostly due to code complexity, new technology implementation or even quality issues. If we are aware of this, and take the responsibility for it, we can plan beforehand and put procedures in place for when vulnerabilities do happen. This then results in being a trustworthy software provider.”