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iPhones Vulnerable To ‘Text Bomb’ Crash Bug

Tom Jowitt is a leading British tech freelance and long standing contributor to TechWeek Europe

Latest security bug is a simple message, which typically causes an iPhone to crash or restart

Security problems for Apple products are coming thick and fast, with the latest being a humble iMessage that can cause an iPhone or indeed an Apple Mac to crash.

The bug was discovered by software developer Abraham Masri who tweeted about the flaw in an effort to get Apple’s attention about the matter.

The malicious code of the ‘text bomb’ was uploaded to a webpage on GitHub, but this code has since been taken down.

Text Bomb

The “text bomb” code is apparently so toxic for iPhones that devices which are sent a link to the code would also crash – even if they didn’t actually click the link.

Masri has called the iPhone crashing code ‘ChaiOS’, a pun between the word “chaos” and iOS, and typically it causes the Messaging app to crash, or users being returned to the lock screen.

However it should be noted that the code also reportedly affects Apple Macs as well, where it reportedly makes the Safari browser crash, and causes other slowdowns.

Masri said he had removed the code from Github as he had made his point.

“I’m not going to re-upload it. I made my point. Apple needs to take such bugs more seriously,” he Tweeted.

Thankfully the bug is not overtly sinister, but seem to be just annoying, according to security expert Graham Cluley.

“Something about the so-called ChaiOS bug’s code gives your Apple device a brainstorm,” blogged Cluley. “Ashamed about the mess it gets itself in, Messages decides the least embarrassing thing to do is to crash.

“Nasty,” he wrote. “But, thankfully, more of a nuisance than something that will lead to data being stolen from your computer or a malicious hacker being able to access your files.”

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Previous Issues

This is not the first time that Apple devices have proved to be vulnerable to text bombs.

In July 2015 Apple was forced to issue a fix for the ‘effective power’ iMessage flaw that caused iDevices to crash when certain text was sent to an unsuspecting user.

And in the same year Apple Macs and iPhones were also found to be crashing because of a simple string of Arabic characters.

In January 2017 another prank text was found to crash an iPhone. This flaw involved the use of a white flag emoji, a zero, a rainbow emoji and a hidden character called a ‘variation selector’.

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