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Source: Mac Rumors

Apple Clamps Down Walkie-Talkie App due to Eavesdropping Bug

On Wednesday, Apple announced that its Walkie-Talkie application would be closed down until further notice. The tech giant revealed that the measure was taken after an undisclosed user flagged down a bug which potentially allowed a hacker to listen in on a conversation.

Apple added that the fix is still in the works and that it’s going to take a while. In the meantime, Apple Watch users are asked to perform a clean uninstall of the app and run a complete malware scan on their device for spyware apps.

What’s up with Apple Watch’s Walkie-Talkie app?

Let’s face it: walkie-talkies are darn expensive and, in the long run, purchasing a bunch is not worth the effort. Sure, when we were kids, having those around while playing outside would have been great, but hey, money doesn’t grow on a tree. So, for all the nostalgia-stricken users out there, back in September 2018, the company released a Walkie-Talkie mode for Apple Watch wearers.

It’s very easy to use – you need only install the app on your watch, add a few contacts, and start sending out voice messages. The latest Walkie-Talkie app version allowed users to communicate over short and long range via Wi-Fi.

So, you just press the button, speak your mind, and if your walkie-talkie buddy is online, he can reply by holding down the watch’s button. Yes, I know it would have been easier with instant messaging or calling, but then again, the walkie-talkie frenzy never died out. Well, not when box office-smashers like Stranger Things made them look cool again.

Back to malware – on Wednesday, Apple announced that the Walkie-Talkie app’s functionality would be temporarily suspended. According to Apple, one user reported a spyware-type vulnerability, which may have allowed a hacker to eavesdrop on conversations. The bug reported was patched through Apple’s report vulnerability page.

So far, the company refused to offer any details about the vulnerability or the fix’s ETA. What we know for sure is that this type of vulnerability is Apple Watch-specific, meaning that is was not exploited in the wild.

After sandboxing the malware, Apple’s security specialists decided that the best thing to do would be to shut down the application. In a statement released the same day, Apple declared that to their best knowledge, no one was affected by this bug. Still no word on how the bug got there in the first place.

Wrap-up

Until the issue gets fixed, I would advise you to stop using the application. Might not be a bad idea to force-close the Walkie-Talkie app. If it’s a one-time only use the app, you might even consider performing a clean uninstall.

Also, remember to use a registry cleaning tool to get rid of all the trash. Now, to be totally safe, get yourself a good anti-malware software like Thor Foresight Home or Malwarebytes; after uninstalling the app, run a thorough malware scan on your watch. Don’t forget to include the external storage device and the boot sector because those are the places malware like to nest.

So, what’s your take on Apple shutting down the Walkie-Talkie app? Drop a comment and let me know your thoughts.

About Daniel Sadler

Old-school PC gamer, poetry buff, cat lover, tech wiz. His writing career began almost two decades ago when he modestly acknowledged that hindsight or, lack thereof, can compromise security. He enjoys spending quality time with his friends and family. Most of his friends refer to Daniel as a "man of a few words, but, man, what words!" His interests include cybersecurity, IT, blogging, and, of course, everything related to technology.

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