Apple offered a temporary fix on Thursday for a newly discovered bug in its iOS mobile operating system, which can crash any iPhone after a specific text string is received. According to the company, a permanent solution will be released in a software update.
“Apple is aware of an iMessage issue caused by a specific series of unicode characters and we will make a fix available in a software update,” the company said in a statement. The message crashes the iPhones, followed by a reboot. If the user attempts to reopen the Messages app after the reboot, the app crashes again if it is opened in the list view.
In a post in the Support section on its website, Apple said that iPhone users who have been targeted by the notorious text will need to complete a set of steps using Siri to unlock the Messages app.
Here is the official workaround:
Step 1: Ask Siri to “read unread messages.”
Step 2: Use Siri to reply to the malicious message. After you reply, you'll be able to open Messages again.
Step 3: In Messages, swipe left to delete the entire thread. Or tap and hold the malicious message, tap More, and delete the message from the thread.
“As the issue also affects OS X applications, a malicious party could set the triggering text as a server message of the day or welcome message, causing a user’s terminal to crash when authenticating to network services,” Mathew Hickey, principal security consultant at MDSec, told Forbes.
Apple's official fix for the iMessage bug is similar to workarounds already suggested by some iPhone owners. In addition to Siri, some users also used the Messages app on a Mac to add another message to the conversation to fix the bug, the Verge reported.