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The kid who discovered the Eavesdropping Bug in FaceTime is to be compensated by Apple

by Milicent Atieno
The kid who discovered the Eavesdropping Bug in FaceTime is to be compensated by Apple

Remember that bug that made it possible to eavesdrop on someone via FaceTime? If you don’t, here is a link to that article. Well, Apple has released a fix for that bug, meaning you can continue using the app as much as you want without fear of getting ‘eavesdropped on.’

However, the real hero remains 14-year-old Grant Thompson, who pointed out this zero-day vulnerability. Something that experienced and seasoned engineers over at the Cupertino company failed to see. There is also another hero to this story, the mother to the kid who after being alerted used every thinkable means to reach Apple and flag the flaw in FaceTime.

As you can imagine, it is not easy to reach the ears of the right people in Apple who can investigate the matter and kickstart a solution for it.

Undisclosed Compensation

Apple is now showing gratitude to the 14-year-old by paying him undisclosed compensation and investing in his education. A spokesperson from Apple told Reuters, the company also “conducted a thorough security audit of the FaceTime service,” and discovered the issue is with iOS 12.1.4 release. They also discovered that there was also a bug affecting Live Photos as well. The company has since released a fix for both issues.

After news broke out that FaceTime has a bug letting users eavesdrop on one another, Apple moved quickly to disable Group FaceTime, which was where the bug was affecting.

How the 14-year-old tumbled into the Bug

Thompson said he was surprised when he discovered he can actually force a friend’s phone to pick up his FaceTime calls by simply dialing another friend, and afterward adding the first contact. Doing that, instantly connected him with the first friend he wanted to dial up on FaceTime, even though they did not actually pick up his call.

Thompson alerted his mom about this bug,  but it took more than a week for his mom to get some attention from Apple. That begs the question, how can non-technical (none-researchers) reach these big tech corporations when they discovered something flawed with their products?

It is certainly not easy for non-technical guys to be taken seriously by the techies working inside big tech corporations. They could easily dismiss it off. Big companies, in general, need to redefine how the general public can reach through to them.

Apple, for one, is reported by Reuters to reported to be working on overhauling its system so that normal folks (non-techies) can reach them faster and easier. That way, users can quickly report problems they are experiencing with Apple products.

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