Despite being one of most secure mobile operating systems, iOS is no stranger to running into some serious hiccups at times. The latest of the troubles to have hit the OS is a newly discovered bug which can effectively crash any iPhone receiving a specific string of text over SMS or iMessage. As it turns out, the bug is now known to have broken Snapchat, and Twitter as well, and if you thought this is getting serious, there’s no comfort in knowing that Mac OS X is not any safer either.
Let me just start out and say that the bit of information up there is truly overwhelming given how the news of the bug and its effect started out. iOS is no stranger to occasional bugs, and while an iPhone simply restarting as it bows down to the a string of text seems extreme, we have seen something similar with WhatsApp in the past, though the iPhone was mostly invulnerable to that bug.
But with the bug expanding to other apps on iOS and even posing a threat to Apple’s desktop OS, this is evolving into a bigger headache than Apple may have initially deemed it out to be. The iPhone maker had even released a temporary fix to the text / iMessage crashing bug, but it looks like the bug has caught up lately.
Apparently, if you have Twitter notification enabled, any incoming direct message or even a public mention will push your iPhone into retreat, as the phone restarts or crashes, though there is no lasting damage. Meanwhile, Snapchat suffers a more dramatic end to it, as receiving that infamous message will instantaneously crash the iPhone device when you try to open that conversation. Twice, thrice, you can try it again and again, but it will keep restarting your phone – according to TheGuardian.
The only immediate remedy for this is to turn off notifications for Twitter and Snapchat and wait for Apple to release iOS 8.4 with fix – which should be coming very soon.
As for Macs being vulnerable to this bug, and as pointed out by Forbes: “The issue lies in how Apple devices render characters in unicode, a widely-deployed standard that uses binary code to represent text or script characters, known as glyphs.” To put it simply, OS X and iOS are both troubled by the way they read these malicious characters. According to Mathew Hickey a security analyst at MDSec, it is unclear which OS X apps and how many are likely to be affected by this bug, but “may include email applications or other instant messaging platforms, however at present only a small number of applications are known to be affected including iOS SMS and OS X Terminal.”
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