​Apple working on fix for bug that crashes iPhones with a text message

Apple will fix the bug that allows an attacker to crash an iPhone by sending a special string of characters in a text message.

Apple says it's developing a fix for a strange bug in iOS that could let someone crash another person's iPhone by sending it a specific text message.

The potentially annoying bug affects iOS 8 and causes devices to crash and restart when they receive a particular string of symbols and Arabic characters by SMS.

According to reports on Reddit, the string of characters causes iPhones, iPads, and Apple Watches to crash. After receiving the message, users also reported Apple's Messages app failed to open. Some that tested whether the same effect could be achieved by sending the string from third-party apps, such as WhatsApp and Telegram, and found that it would cause those apps to crash too.

Apple says it is working on a fix and that the behaviour is caused by a problem in iMessage.

"We are aware of an iMessage issue caused by a specific series of unicode characters and we will make a fix available in a software update," Apple said in a statement to ZDNet.

In the absence of an immediate fix, there are a few workarounds outlined by MacRumours that may fix the problem, which all involve sending a message to Messages to clear away the malicious text. That could involve asking the person who sent the initial text to send another message; opening Siri and telling it to "Send a message to myself" with anything in the message; or using the iOS's Share option to send a note from another app. It's not clear whether Apple will consider this bug a security issue, but as one Reddit user noted, it would classify as a denial of service.

Apple fixed an unrelated bug with a similar effect in iOS 8.2, which allowed a remote attacker to crash an iPhone by sending a Class 0 or Flash message, usually reserved for emergency notifications. It didn't affect the Messages app but nonetheless could have allowed anyone to send a malicious message that caused the phone to reboot.

Apple in 2013 also fixed similar issues with messaging apps in iOS 6 and OS X 10.8.

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