A Privacy Bug Related to Siri Can Read Out Third-Party App Messages Even When iPhone is Locked

BY Evan Selleck

Published 21 Mar 2018

iPhone X Lock screen Notification

With the launch of iOS 11, Apple made a distinct change with the way messages, and other content, is displayed on the lock screen of an iOS device.

The idea is to hide content on the lock screen of a locked iPhone, so that when an app sends a notification the user can see that there is something waiting for them on the lock screen, but the actual content of that notification is hidden until the smartphone is unlocked. For the iPhone X, this means simply looking at the phone and unlocking the handset with Face ID, basically allowing for the user to access the lock screen content with just a glance.

But, it looks like there is a privacy bug related to Siri that bypasses that lock screen security measure and allows for the digital personal assistant to read the “locked” message anyway. The issue was first reported by Mac Magazine, and they have verified that it works with iOS 11.2.6 and iOS 11.3. As it stands right now, this bug allows for any message that has been delivered by a third-party service, like WhatsApp, Telegram, and others to be read aloud.

The lone exception appears to be Apple’s stock Messages app, which Siri won’t read aloud unless the phone has been unlocked — either by Face ID, Touch ID, or the iPhone owner’s passcode.

The publication has alerted Apple to the issue, but, at the time of publication, the company has not responded.

Our Take

This was a security measure that I had turned off at first, but the more I’ve used the iPhone X and Face ID I switched it back on. I never used to have messages or other content hidden on the lock screen, but now it just feels like the right default state to be in. It’s a shame that third-party messaging apps aren’t restricted to the same security measure, as that would just make sense. Apple will probably fix this soon enough, though it did take a long time before it was discovered.

[via 9to5Mac; Mac Magazine]