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Security & privacy

What you need to know about this Apple Watch app that allowed eavesdropping

A fact that Apple fans are keen to point out to Windows users is their mostly trouble free experience using the company’s products. Sure, there’s the occasional hardware glitch and software trouble, but ultimately, Apple has a strong reputation for delivering cohesive operating systems, services, and gadgets to its customers.

But as with anything in the tech world, all that can change in a matter of moments. Right on the heels of the company’s infamous FaceTime security flaw, a new Apple vulnerability was discovered in one of the most unlikely places imaginable: an app on the Apple Watch!

If exploited, this security flaw could allow hackers to easily eavesdrop on conversations and private matters — all without users noticing! We have the latest updates on this strange security flaw, and the steps Apple is taking to protect its users from privacy violations and cybercrime.

“Apple, do you copy? Over!”

A fun feature that Apple included with its Apple Watch products was the Walkie-Talkie app. With just the push of a button, you could easily contact another friend with an Apple Watch for instant communication.

This feature’s speed and instant alerts made it popular with Apple Watch owners, but nobody could have predicted a strange security vulnerability lurking at the heart of the program.

In a surprise move, Apple announced that it was disabling the feature on all current Apple Watch models for the time being. This is apparently due to a security vulnerability found in the Walkie-Talkie app itself — which could allow hackers to bypass the Watch altogether and infiltrate the microphone of the iPhone it’s connected to. Once inside the phone, the hacker could use the exploit to eavesdrop on users without their knowledge.

I own an Apple Watch! Am I safe?

Presently, Apple has disabled the feature on a service level. This means that you don’t need to do anything to protect yourself since the app will still live on your phone. What Apple’s done, however, makes the Walkie-Talkie app useless until a patch is released by the company for download. As of now, Apple claims that such a patch is currently in the works.

The company also verified that nobody had exploited the vulnerability at this point, so users can take comfort in the fact that nobody is currently or formerly eavesdropping through their watch.

Needless to say, to get access to the Walkie-Talkie feature when it returns, all you’ll need to do is update your Apple Watch regularly through the included Watch app on your iPhone. When the patch releases, you should get a red notification badge on the Watch app to let you know it’s ready for download.

Ultimately, as scary as the issue could have been, it’s good news that Apple acted quick enough to seal the bug before it had a chance to be taken advantage of. The quick thinking and action on Apple’s part should do well to please the company’s loyal customer base, but it’s a good sign going forward that more companies are taking a vested interest in cybersecurity.

If Facebook could just get on board, maybe data security and privacy would become the norm.

Until then, nice job Apple! Just make sure to let us know when the feature is available again. Seriously, it’s so fun to use! Walkie-Talkie, you will be missed.

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