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Friday, July 20, 2018

Beware: Apple iMessage ‘text bomb’ can cause your iPhone to crash

There's a new Apple 'text bomb', which can cause an iPhone or even a Mac to crash and in this particular instance, the text is shared in the form of a website link on iMessage.

By: Tech Desk | New Delhi | Updated: January 19, 2018 11:54:29 am
Apple, Apple iMessage, Apple iMessage text bomb, Apple iOS text bomb, Apple iOS bug, Apple message app, Apple imessage crash, Apple iMessage crashed Beware: Apple iMessage ‘text bomb’ can cause your iPhone to crash and here’s how it works. (Image source: Bloomberg)

There’s a new Apple ‘text bomb’, which can cause an iPhone or even a Mac to crash and in this particular instance, the text is shared in the form of a website link on iMessage. According to BuzzFeed News, which first reported this issue, the system can crash without the user even clicking on the link or opening the message in question. It adds that just receiving the message is good enough to cause a crash.

The ‘text bomb’ was actually created by software developer Abraham Masri who posted the bug, now called “chaiOS,” on GitHub. However, the listing has been taken down since then. According to Masri’s tweets, the “chaiOS bug” will freeze the recipient’s device, and possibly restart it. He has also posted saying this should not be used for “bad stuff.” It looks like Masri’s account has also been blocked on Github, though he says he had no malicious intentions when posting about the issue.

He further wrote, “The bug I released was to get Apple’s attention. It’s just an html file. Github always hosted jailbreaks (even .ipa files) that might’ve included malware. I don’t understand why you’d ban my account. Btw, I always report bugs before releasing them.” According to Apple Insider, the website link tries to exploit a bug by creating an excessively long tag and when the app tries to render a preview the app tends to crash. In some cases, the iPhone will also crash.

According to the BuzzFeed News report the bug affects iPhone X, iPhone 5s, and basically all iOS version 10.0 and up are impacted by this. It also appears that once the messages app crashes due to this bug, it is unable to restart. Marsi also said the bug can impact Mac computers. There’s no word on whether Apple will issue an update to fix, though this is likely. However, the company has not yet officially given a statement on the problem.

Check out Marsi’s tweets below:

The last time an iMessage bug was reported was in January 2017, where a vcf file was causing the app to freeze and crash. In this case, clicking on the malicious message, which was basically a large vcf file, would cause the app to crash and restarting it would also cause the app to crash.

In May 2016, it was also reported that Apple iPhones on iOS 8.3 could crash when a message containing a specific string of text was sent. At that point, Apple had issued a fix for the bug. Still the lesson in all of this remains the same: Do not click on links sent in iMessages from unknown users, as they could have a malicious link attached to them.

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