If you own an iPhone, beware of a video that is being spread via iMessage. The five-second clip that has started to make its rounds will cause iOS devices to lock up and freeze if played.
The issue, which seems to have first appeared on Reddit, seems to do in any iPhone running iOS 10.1 or the beta version of iOS 10.2.
Jovan Hernandez, an Apple Certified Software Professional and IT expert, told IBTimes he encountered the video himself. He said the video “somehow causes a memory leak, probably through the decoder.”
Hernandez explained the phone “needs to decompress the video to play it, which in turn, the file seems to exploit a glitch that uses more and more resources to consume available RAM, until the device has no more and cannot function for that reason.”
The issue can be fixed by force restarting the device. This can be performed by holding down the Power/Sleep and Home button simultaneously. Once the phone reboots, the issue should be resolved and the phone will be back in working order.
There is no immediately apparent security risk associate with the bug, more just an annoyance. But Hernandez warned, “That isn’t to say that it shouldn’t be taken lightly. Any glitch or bug should and/or could present security risks and vulnerabilities to users devices.”
The video itself is not necessarily the problem; it has been rehosted on YouTube and other video hosting services and can be watched without issue because the process re-enodes the video and removes the malicious aspects of it.
However, when received as an MP4 file sent via iMessage and played by the default iOS video player, it can wreak havoc on a device. Hernandez noted that while iPhones are taking the brunt of the damage, they may not be alone. “This issue is more based on what encoder/decoder process is being used. There are reports that Windows and Linux systems can be affected to, as they may use similar decoders.”
This isn’t the first time iOS has been hit with a device-crashing bug. In fact, it’s proven rather commonplace recently. A text message containing characters that caused issue with iOS was sent around last year and caused devices to crash. Earlier this year, a prank website aptly named CrashSafari.com appeared online and would instantly crash any iPhone that visited it.