Apple vows to zip Siri’s loose lips in future update


Sorry, Alexa: Siri still the most widespread AI assistant
Sorry, Alexa: Siri still the most widespread AI assistant
Photo: Ste Smith/Cult of Mac

Apple has promised it will fix Siri’s newly-discovered privacy problem in a future software update.

The flaw allows anyone to read your unread messages and other notifications without your passcode — even those that you’ve chosen to hide. It’s not yet clear if Apple will have the fix ready in time for iOS 11.3, which is already on its sixth beta release.

Siri will read aloud the content of almost all your notifications if you ask it to “read my notifications,” Brazilian website MacMagazine reported earlier this week. This includes messages in Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, and even Gmail.

You don’t have to enter your passcode, which makes the feature handy if you’re catching up on unread alerts while you’re behind the wheel. But it’s a major problem for your privacy.

Siri has a privacy problem

Anyone can ask your iPhone to read your notifications, and even those that you’ve chosen to keep hidden will be exposed. The problem is present in Apple’s most recent iOS releases — including the latest iOS 11.3 beta.

iMessage is one of a small number of apps that aren’t affected, but the built-in Mail app is.

Apple has now vowed to address the problem, MacRumors reports. “We are aware of the issue and it will be addressed in an upcoming software update,” a company spokesperson confirmed on Thursday.

Without specifics, we don’t know if the fix will be ready in time for iOS 11.3’s public debut, or whether Apple could roll it out even earlier in an iOS 11.2.7 patch. It’s obviously a worrying flaw that needs to be addressed quickly, but fixes take time.

You can fix the problem in the meantime by either disabling Siri altogether when your iPhone is locked, or by prevening your most sensitive notifications from appearing on the lock screen.


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