A Single-Character Message Can Crash Any Apple iPhone, iPad Or Mac

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by Wang Wei

February 15, 2018

Only a single character can crash your iPhone and block access to the Messaging app in iOS as well as popular apps like WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, Outlook for iOS, and Gmail.

First spotted by Italian Blog Mobile World, a potentially new severe bug affects not only iPhones but also a wide range of Apple devices, including iPads, Macs and even Watch OS devices running the latest versions of their operating software.

Like previous ‘text bomb’ bug, the new flaw can easily be exploited by anyone, requiring users to send only a single character from Telugu—a native Indian language spoken by about 70 million people in the country.

Once the recipient receives a simple message containing the symbol or typed that symbol into the text editor, the character immediately instigates crashes on iPhones, iPads, Macs, Apple Watches and Apple TVs running Apple’s iOS Springboard.

Apps that receive the text bomb tries to load the character, but fails and refuses to function properly until the character is removed—which usually can be done by deleting the entire conversation.

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The easiest way to delete the offending message is by asking someone else to send a message to the app that is crashing due to the text bomb. This would allow you to jump directly into the notification and delete the entire thread containing the character.

The character can disable third-party apps like iMessage, Slack, Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, Gmail, and Outlook for iOS, as well as Safari and Messages for the macOS versions.

Telegram and Skype users appear to be unaffected by the text bomb bug.

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