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Normally when an application on iPhone or iPad needs to access the microphone or camera it should get permission from the user.

Considering applications for iOS distributed through AppStore, if such an application never asked for permission, and isn't listed in the privacy tab in Settings, is it guaranteed that the application can't access the microphone or camera?

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  • Paranoia detected.. no, i don't think they can, and remember, if the FBI can't hack an iPhone, I seriously doubt if any one can, so stop being paranoid.
    – OzzieSpin
    Commented Oct 12, 2016 at 11:51
  • I think once you jailbreak an iPhone/iPad, the system in place to prevent an app from using your camera or microphone without your consent can be bypassed. So while your question didn't specifically mention 'jailbreak', I'm adding this to assist in the paranoia of others.
    – fsb
    Commented Oct 12, 2016 at 13:18
  • related: apple.stackexchange.com/q/406349/18922 Commented Nov 13, 2020 at 22:11

2 Answers 2

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Unless it's a hacked system, then no, it will not have access since access is only possible via API's that require granting access.

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  • As long as the quality verification process conducted by Apple before worldwide broadcast on AppStore is 100 % secure, and as long as the application doesn't contain any download or upgrade function, the access to the microphone and camera has to go through the API.
    – dan
    Commented Oct 13, 2016 at 6:51
  • @danielAzuelos it wouldn't matter even then. When installed via de AppStore, you don't have the privileges required to bypass the API's. You'd have to break out of the sandbox, gain root and then you may have a chance, but at that point you have hacked/jailbroken the device. Commented Oct 13, 2016 at 14:33
  • so then why/how does my FaceTime app randomly launch and the camera come on with out my (the user) input? on the MAC os
    – mark
    Commented Jul 27, 2018 at 20:14
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In the event of a hack it's assumed that the system you mention has been overcome in some fashion. It's also assumed that the hackers find a way to turn the LED light off alongside the camera.

Notably, none of this has happened yet on a Mac. It's just that a handful of headlines were generated by people saying it's possible.

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    The question is tagged iphone, ios & ipad so one would presume they're not referring to the Mac.
    – grg
    Commented Oct 12, 2016 at 15:47
  • Did you ask yourself how the kernel does turn on or off the camera? If it can, then a process can, and a sufficiently priviledged user can. Since nearly 100 % of Mac users have an admin account, then any Mac user can do it :(.
    – dan
    Commented Oct 12, 2016 at 16:12
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    Have a look at this tool: objective-see.com/products/oversight.html .
    – dan
    Commented Oct 12, 2016 at 16:13
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    I believe it's not possible to turn off the light on most Macs -- it's physically linked to the camera, so software can't affect it. The only Mac webcam spyware I've ever heard about simply diverts the stream when the camera is already in use, when the light is obviously expected to be on. It can't be used to spy on the user when they're not using the camera.
    – Mike Scott
    Commented Oct 12, 2016 at 17:28

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