For quite some time now there is a text string circulating that can halt your iPhone from working.
Sounds really cool that a mystery text message that can crash iPhones due to a bug with Apple’s operating system also has the same effect when the message is sent via Twitter and Snapchat.
The bug, which causes Apple’s text handling system to choke on certain characters from Arabic, Marathi, and Chinese crashes the iPhones, iPads, Apple watches and Macs to shut down if it’s sent via a direct message or public mention on Twitter’s iOS app(via The Guardian).
Many users think that the way iOS process the Unicode text for display in the notification bar is causing the problem. However, nothing is certain and we cannot conclude anything until the officials make any statement.
The issue through the iOS messaging apps was discovered after tests by the Guardian and security researcher Mikko Hypponen.
As now the particular string is open for everyone to access, it is our duty to act responsibly. For any reason sending it to any iPhone user is at least immoral for us, except for testing purposes.
New iOS Bug Crashes iPhones Simply Through Messages
The bug — which was discovered by several users on Reddit — requires a specific string of text containing Arabic, Chinese and Marathi characters to be sent. The receiving iPhone will then crash upon receiving the message and reboot. Users that receive the text through the iPhone’s messages app need to perform a workaround to gain access to the app again.
The ultimate goal of this bug is not to access any of the users’ data or ask for ransom. Rather it is just an evil move to get on one’s nerves. On one side of it, you can see it as a genius at work but this genius might not have a good end.
Here we will be informing you how this text can affect your Apple devices. We cannot do much for a solution until Apple launches the software fix for the bug. But until then, we need to find a way around it. And here we brought you the way of doing it.
In the past, we have seen bugs of similar nature. Like in 2015 a text with the message “effective power” would crash your iPhone. But Apple has always been quick in releasing patches to tackle these bugs.
Usually, we can’t pinpoint a specific reason behind these bugs. But this bug confuses the notification bar to decode the text in different languages and it crashes. As the issue relates to iPhone only so your Android user friends can freak you out pretty easily.
iPhone text bugs can crash Apple Watch, iPad & Mac too
The bug, which was originally identified as causing crashes on iPhones, has now been shown to also affect the Apple Watch, causing it to crash when attempting to reply to the offending message via voice using Siri.
The text message has also caused iPads to crash and reportedly can affect Mac laptops and desktops too. The crash is caused by a bug within a core system common to all of Apple’s devices that handles text.
“As the issue also affects OS X applications, a malicious party could set the triggering text as a server message of the day or welcome message, causing a user’s terminal to crash when authenticating to network services,” Mathew Hickey, principal security consultant at MDSec told Forbes.
The above statement can spook Apple users even more. Imagine you are just trying to get things done but fail to do so just because of a gibberish text.
Those wishing to protect themselves from these attacks can turn off the notification system on iOS devices and stop SMS or iMessages from being delivered to the Apple Watch.
Also if your phone is jailbroken, some tests indicate that it will be forced into the safe mode rather than crashing.
Note one thing the text causing all these problems doesn’t mean that your device can’t read the Arabic language. Neither is it any secret weapon by any terrorist organization. As we have mentioned above that your data remains safe throughout this problem.
The iPhone message app will keep on crashing the app or your phone if you will keep on bringing the message on the screen. This happens because every time there is a display of a string, the Unicode will decode and the infinite loop of messages will start resulting in a headache for you.
How it Affects Mac?
Mac users are less likely to be affected by the bug – sending the string via iMessages did not trigger a crash in the Guardian’s testing – but those using the Terminal app to access resources across the internet should be aware that it could be affected if exposed to the text string.
iPhone text Crash Bug Hits Twitter and Snapchat:
Snapchat reportedly experiences similar symptoms, according to the Guardian. But in International Business Times’ tests, the app crashes immediately when the text is pasted into a chat window.
On Twitter, any direct message or public mention that includes a string of characters will cause a recipient’s phone, with notifications turned on for Twitter, to crash immediately.
If you receive the message on Snapchat, it will crash your phone once you will try to read it. The bug will block you from seeing the chat history with the sender of the text. Turning off the notification will not solve the issue for Snapchat. This is because the message does now show up in the notification bar by the app anyways.
When a sender sends a text chat with the offending string, it permanently crashes the iPhone when the user attempts to read it. The bug means that users cannot open their chat history with the person who sent the message without crashing their iPhone. Although you can continue chatting with other of your contacts without any issue. This is because of the Unicode decoding to render the message on the screen.
You cannot delete the message, but you can send and receive messages from other contacts.
The offending string of text:
لُلُصّبُلُلصّبُررً ॣ ॣh ॣ ॣ
When sent a text chat with the offending string, it permanently crashes the iPhone when the user attempts to read it. The bug means that the user cannot open their chat history with the person who sent the message without crashing their iPhone.
The message cannot be cleared, but other messages can be sent to and received from other contacts.
How to Fix iPhone Crash Text Message Bug:
As it is clear now that the issue lies in the Unicode text in the malicious message. Some users suggest that the Unicode message decodes into an infinite number of messages which overloads your device’s memory. And as a result, your device crashes.
Apple told the Guardian that it is aware of the bug and will issue a software update to fix it. However, we are yet to know how long that update will take
Users can use the following steps to work around the problem:
- Ask Siri to “read unread messages.”
- Use Siri to reply to the malicious message. After you reply, you’ll be able to open Messages again.
- In Messages, swipe left to delete the entire thread. Or tap and hold the malicious message, tap More, and delete the message from the thread.
Another thing you can do is to open your photos app and send any picture to the person who sent you the text. You can find many pictures to let the person know how you feel about this joke (wink).
If you are able to open the messages app but are stuck in a particular conversation, you can just delete the whole thread as mentioned above. This will keep your app running and will bring you out of the loop.
How to Protect Yourself from Text Crash Bug
If you are safe from this trouble so far, this doesn’t mean that they can’t target you in the future. Here are some points that can get you to the safer side.
- Go to Settings > Notifications > Messages and turn off the “Show previews.” This works for some users but not for all.
- Go to Settings > Notifications > Messages and turn off “Show on Lock Screen.” This will let you know about a text through the sound but will not crash the device.
- For some users, the issue came when they tried to pull up text from the notification bar. So for this, go to Go to Settings > Notifications > Messages > Show in Notification center and select the “None” option.
The company promises they “will make a fix available in a software update,” but the company didn’t commit to any deadline.
Given that third-party apps are now becoming affected without as clear of an easy fix, Apple will probably try to put that update out as soon as possible before more permanent damage befalls any users.