A three character long text message can temporarily disable iPhones, a hacker has shown.
On receiving the message, iPhones instantly freeze for around a minute, and sometimes users are forced to restart. Besides blocking the number that the malicious messages come from the victim has no way of preventing the attack, although its effects are temporary and do not work on the most recent version of iOS.
The bug is the latest in a series of strange text-message vulnerabilities that have affected iPhones in recent years.
The offending message appears to contain just three characters - a white flag emoji, a “0” and a rainbow emoji.
When a text with the three characters is received, an iPhone will become temporarily unusable, with the touchscreen and physical buttons not functioning.
How to prevent it
The first bug, in which a string of three characters is sent to the device, can be dealt with simply by upgrading to the latest version of iOS. To do this, go to Settings on your phone, then General, then Software Update.
The second bug, which involves the much longer text, may stop the Messages app from working, because every time the app is opened, it tries to reload the most recent text message. Clicking this link on your iPhone and opening it in Messages should create a new message and allow you to delete the one that causes the bug.
If a person keeps sending the message, the only recourse may be to block them. To do this click the “i” button at the top right of a text-message thread, click their name and select “Block this caller”.
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