Apple Disables Watch Walkie-Talkie App

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Vulnerability could have allowed people to listen in, so Apple takes decision to disable app

Apple has reportedly disabled a function of its Watch device, after the discovery of a serious vulnerability.

The iPad maker told TechCrunch that it had disabled the Apple Watch Walkie Talkie app due to an unspecified vulnerability that could allow a person to listen to another customer’s iPhone without consent.

Apple takes privacy and security very seriously, but of late it has been subjected to a few scares. Earlier this week the Zoom video conferencing app on Apple Macs was found to contain a zero-day vulnerability that allowed for a camera exploit.

The Apple Watch Series 4. Image credit: Apple

Watch Walkie-Talkie

Essentially, the Walkie-Talkie app on the Apple Watch allows for two users who have accepted an invite from each other to receive audio chats via a ‘push to talk’ interface.

Apple apologised for the flaw and said it was working on a fix.

It also added that it was not aware of any attacks happening the wild.

“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.” Techcrunch quoted Apple as saying in a statement. “We apologise 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,” Apple reportedly said.

“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,” it concluded. “We apologise again for this issue and the inconvenience.”

Security concerns

The flaw that could have allowed for outsiders to listen in on conversations via the Watch or even mobile phones, has long been a concern for security bosses.

In 2016 for example, Prime minister Theresa May reportedly imposed new rules for British cabinet ministers, who were forbidden to wear the Apple Watch during cabinet meetings due to the risk they could be hacked by foreign intelligence agencies.

Mobile phones were already been banned due to similar concerns.

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Author: Tom Jowitt
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