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Have an iPhone or an iPad? Simple text message can crash your Apple device

Although the message is not easy to generate or send, it contains an innocent looking three symbol rainbow message and is capable of freezing iPhones and iPads. The more dangerous part is that some models don’t even have a fix for the bug.

tech Updated: Jan 19, 2017 17:58 IST
HT Correspondent
Although the message is not easy to generate or send, it contains an innocent looking three symbol rainbow message and is capable of freezing iPhones and iPads. The more dangerous part is that some models don’t even have a fix for the bug.
Although the message is not easy to generate or send, it contains an innocent looking three symbol rainbow message and is capable of freezing iPhones and iPads. The more dangerous part is that some models don’t even have a fix for the bug.

Do you own an Apple iPhone or an iPad? If yes, then be careful of text messages as a new bug has been reported which enables a SMS to crash your favourite Apple device.

Although the message is not easy to generate or send, it contains an innocent looking three symbol rainbow message and is capable of freezing iPhones and iPads. The more dangerous part is that some models don’t even have a fix for the bug.

YouTuber EverythingApplePro has brought this bug to the masses, and claims that by sending a white flag emoji, a zero, and a rainbow emoji in one message (in that order), it will crash any iPhone running on iOS 8 and above.

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As soon as an user gets the message, their iPhones and iPads freeze. The YouTuber also demoed the iOS bug in a detailed video showing how it works and the resultant ramifications.

In the video, the YouTuber sends the malicious text message through his iPhone to another, and as soon as the text message arrived on the device, it completely froze. The recipient did not get a pop-down notification of a text message, or even the chance to go into the Messages app to open it. The text message instantly crashed the iPhone without any warning.

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He also explains how the message can be sent. It can be delivered to another Apple device in two ways. The first is the string text format which we have mentioned in the beginning of the story. It includes a waving white flag emoji, a zero, a rainbow and a hidden character called a variation selector. This can be put into any iMessage chat and sent to anyone. The other way is to embed this text string into a contact file and shared on iMessage via iCloud Drive. The iOS bug was discovered by Vincent Desmurs, who has also published fixes (and the malicious contact file) on his blog.

However, the string text bug freezes the devices momentarily -- mostly for a few minutes before it comes to life automatically, claims the YouTuber. He also said that this message is being used by many as a prank to scare their friends.

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This freezing of the iPhone is caused due to difficulty in reading the message in question. The iPhone tries to create a rainbow flag with the text, and is trying to combine all the three symbols to make it. Difficulty in doing so causes the phone to hang completely, albeit just for a while.

The second way is the contact file method which currently has no fix. “When your victim clicks on the message, their Messages app will attempt to load a large amount of data that couses the system malfunction. However the text in the file is very complicated for the system and causes a CPU average and freezing the app. If you close the app and try to reopen it, iOS will try to reload the previous message but can’t because it’s the same file containing too much text for the system to handle properly,” Desmurs said.