Despite a teenager’s mother’s best efforts to notify Apple of an audio bug tied to Group FaceTime, the company went unaware of the issue until it made the news cycle.
The Group FaceTime audio bug makes it possible for someone to quickly and (relatively) easily listen in on the recipient’s audio before they even answer the incoming call. It was reported recently that Apple was notified of the bug a week before the issue boiled up. Since then, the company has apologized for the security issue and has promised a fix is coming this week. But now a few more details have come to light.
According to a report on Monday from CNBC, an unnamed “high-level Apple executive” met with the teenager and his mother in Arizona where they live. The main topic of the conversation appeared to be finding a better way for Apple to receive bug reports. It’s not a secret that Apple dropped the ball in this regard, especially since it was reported that the teenager’s mother tried a variety of different methods to contact Apple about the bug — including fax! All of which ultimately fell on deaf ears.
But while the conversation was about how Apple could improve in this area, it was also about the fact that the teenager discovered the bug in the first place. As a result, it sounds like he may be eligible for Apple’s bug bounty program, which provides a monetary reward for individuals that are able to find major issues with the platform and software.
“They also indicated that Grant would be eligible for the bug bounty program. And we would hear from their security team the following week in terms of what that meant,” said Michele Thompson. “If he got some kind of bug bounty for what he found we’d certainly put it to good use for his college because I think he’s going to go far, hopefully. This is actually a field he was interested in before and even more so now.”
However, it’s worth noting here that just because the teenager was able to find this issue doesn’t automatically entitle him to be eligible for the program. Apple’s bug bounty is typically invite-only, and it’s meant to canvas a specific issue or platform, including accessing iCloud outside of Apple’s normal ruleset. With the rules in place, the teenager who found the Group FaceTime bug might not technically be eligible for the program.
That does not mean that Apple shouldn’t make some changes, even on a temporary basis, for this particular case. This is a pretty big issue for Apple because it’s a security-focused company, and making it possible for so many people out in the wild to easily eavesdrop on someone else is massive. Plus, the news that the teenager’s mother tried to notify the company multiple times isn’t a good look for the company.
Still, it’s good to hear that the teenager may be eligible at all. Apple says a fix to patch Group FaceTime and its audio bug, and bring the feature back to the masses, is arriving this week.