The teen reported a problem at Apple a week before the media found out about it.
VIDEO: Here is a video, recorded & sent to Apple by a 14 yr old & his mom, on JAN 23rd, alerting them to the dangerous #FaceTime bug, that has threatened the privacy of millions. I’ve removed sensitive / private info on behalf of the mother (an attorney), whom I just spoke to. pic.twitter.com/YIBKXEP3mI
— John H. Meyer (@BEASTMODE) January 29, 2019
How the student discovered a bug and tried to warn Apple
In an interview to MarketWatch, Grant Thompson said that on January 19, he wanted to play Fortnite on the Xbox and phoned his friends via FaceTime. He first called a friend Nathan, but he did not answer, so the teenager added another friend Diego to the conversation. At this point, Nathan’s smartphone began transmitting the sound automatically, although he did not accept the call.
Thompson tried to reproduce the bug: in all other cases, the situation repeated. Teen shocked that he discovered such a serious mistake at a young age.
[perfectpullquote align=”full” bordertop=”false” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]I’m only 14, and I found it by chance. Instead of Apple employees who get paid for catching such errors.[/perfectpullquote]
On January 20, Grant decided to report the finding to Apple, but failed to do it right away. A student with his mother for nine days tried to warn Apple about the problem. The family tried to contact the company every day by all available means: by email, phone, fax and through social networks.
Michel Thompson, a lawyer, believes that Apple needs to improve the process of fixing bugs. At first, the women were not answered in the support service, and then they were asked to create a developer account in the Apple Radar bug report system and describe the problem there. The woman did it on January 25, but the company did not respond in the next four days – and the information got into the media.
[perfectpullquote align=”full” bordertop=”false” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]They [Apple employees] could check this [Bug Report] in two minutes, understand that this is true, and put it in order. They need to improve the process of reporting such things to ordinary people. And respond more timely.[/perfectpullquote]
What awaits a teenager now
Apple publicly reacted to the bug only when information about it was spread in the media. In a statement on February 1, Thompson was named the first to discover the problem.
[perfectpullquote align=”full” bordertop=”false” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]We thank the Thompson family for reporting the bug and sincerely apologize to consumers who are affected and disturbed by this security bug.[/perfectpullquote]
Apple noted that they had already fixed the bug on the server side, and promised to release a software solution to the problem in the near future. The company also announced that it will review the policy for handling bug and error messages.
[perfectpullquote align=”full” bordertop=”false” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]We want to assure customers that as soon as our engineers learned about the bug and the details of its playback, they quickly turned off the group call feature and started working on corrections. We strive to improve the process of receiving and reviewing messages in order to transmit them to the right people as quickly as possible.[/perfectpullquote]
According to Grant Thompson, Apple would be grateful for it, but getting the award would also be “cool.” The company’s policy provides for rewards in such cases: the reward program for found vulnerabilities and errors has been in effect since 2016. Depending on the danger of bugs, the amount varies from 25 to 200 thousand dollars.
As the mother of Thompson told , after the gratitude from Apple, the management of the company contacted the family. One of the top managers personally thanked the teenager and his mother, and also inquired how Apple could improve the bug reporting process. Representatives of the company noted that Grant has the right to receive remuneration.
[perfectpullquote align=”full” bordertop=”false” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]If he gets any money for what he has found, we will save it for his college. I think he will go far, I hope very much. He has always been interested in it before, and even more now.[/perfectpullquote]
Grant Thompson told Squawk Box that he will continue to use Apple products. According to him, from time to time errors like the FaceTime bug appear in them, but he “believes that Apple is trying to protect the privacy of users.”