Apple details workaround for iOS Messages bug, permanent fix coming soon

Posted:
in iPhone edited June 2015
Apple on Thursday posted a support document detailing workarounds for a recently discovered bug that crashes the iOS Messages app when a specific text string is received.




In the Support Pages entry, Apple said it was aware of an iMessage issue that causes the app to crash when a specific string of unicode text is received, specifically the Arabic characters seen in the screenshot above.
  • Ask Siri to "read unread messages."
  • Use Siri to reply to the malicious message. After you reply, you'll be able to open Messages again.
  • 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.
Apple says a more permanent fix is in the works for a future software update, though an exact release timeline was not offered.

The bug discovered on Wednesday is thought to be a code handling problem; iOS cannot correctly render the block of unicode characters in question. When the text string is sent from one iPhone to another, it sets off a cascade of processing errors that eat up memory and ultimately crashes Messages. In some cases Springboard also crashes, triggering an iPhone reboot sequence.

Aside from Apple's workaround, users have found that receiving a new message from the same sender halts the text rendering process for that conversation, returning Messages to full functionality. Alternatively, users can send themselves a picture or message using an app supporting Share Sheets.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 22
    9secondko9secondko Posts: 929member
    Tee hee!
  • Reply 2 of 22
    This will probably get rolled into the 8.4 update, which means it will be later than planned.
  • Reply 3 of 22
    slurpyslurpy Posts: 5,362member

    Fucking amazing how much mainstream media play this has been getting, been splashed on my local news for the past 2 days with leads such as "DO YOU HAVE AN IPHONE? YOUR NEXT MESSAGE MIGHT BE YOUR LAST" and "MASSIVE IPHONE HACK, YOUR TEXTS ARE NOT SAFE". If I didn't know better I would have burned my phone. Unreal. 

     

    Unless you have complete asshole "friends", who also happen to know about this very specific combination of symbols to send, I don't see how you would be affected by this. My contact list spans 800 people, and magically not a single one sent me this shit.

  • Reply 4 of 22
    netroxnetrox Posts: 1,287member
    What they also failed is that that specific string does NOT always cause iPhone to crash. Only one out of 50 times on average would it crash.
  • Reply 5 of 22
    robmrobm Posts: 1,068member
    slurpy wrote: »
    Fucking amazing how much mainstream media play this has been getting, been splashed on my local news for the past 2 days with leads such as "DO YOU HAVE AN IPHONE? YOUR NEXT MESSAGE MIGHT BE YOUR LAST" and "MASSIVE IPHONE HACK, YOUR TEXTS ARE NOT SAFE". If I didn't know better I would have burned my phone. Unreal. 

    Unless you have complete asshole "friends", who also happen to know about this very specific combination of symbols to send, I don't see how you would be affected by this. My contact list spans 800 people, and magically not a single one sent me this shit.

    qft
    Sad state journalism is in. Sensationalist hyped up bs designed for Internet consumption.
    Ethics ? Professionalism ? Integrity ?
    Thrown out the window for clicks. pffft
  • Reply 6 of 22
    stu279stu279 Posts: 9member
    netrox wrote: »
    What they also failed is that that specific string does NOT always cause iPhone to crash. Only one out of 50 times on average would it crash.

    Works every time with this string in our testing.

    1000

    Also works as a WiFi hotspot name to crash iOS settings and as a contact card sent does some rather screwy things to apps.
  • Reply 7 of 22
    fred1fred1 Posts: 1,042member
    slurpy wrote: »
    Fucking amazing how much mainstream media play this has been getting, been splashed on my local news for the past 2 days with leads such as "DO YOU HAVE AN IPHONE? YOUR NEXT MESSAGE MIGHT BE YOUR LAST" and "MASSIVE IPHONE HACK, YOUR TEXTS ARE NOT SAFE". If I didn't know better I would have burned my phone. Unreal. 

    Unless you have complete asshole "friends", who also happen to know about this very specific combination of symbols to send, I don't see how you would be affected by this. My contact list spans 800 people, and magically not a single one sent me this shit.
    I couldn't agree more with what you say about the state of journalism today. It's all about ratings and eyeball counts and they seem to have given up every other method of getting good ratings (responsible reporting, complete and unbiased journalism, in-depth reporting, just to name a few) and settled (sunk) for the shock factor.

    It's a shame because think of the views a news media would get with headlines like "Your iPhone is safer than you think" or "iPhone message danger hype - the true story"

    Sigh.
  • Reply 8 of 22
    lightknightlightknight Posts: 2,312member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Fred1 View Post





    I couldn't agree more with what you say about the state of journalism today. It's all about ratings and eyeball counts and they seem to have given up every other method of getting good ratings (responsible reporting, complete and unbiased journalism, in-depth reporting, just to name a few) and settled (sunk) for the shock factor.



    It's a shame because think of the views a news media would get with headlines like "Your iPhone is safer than you think" or "iPhone message danger hype - the true story"



    Sigh.



    On the other hand, blaming journalists always seemed an easy way out for all of us, at least to me. We have manufactured that world  of clickbait ourselves, by:

    1- letting ourselves be baited

    2- not making proper journalism a financially viable enough business

    How many newspapers do you know of in your country that does "proper journalism" and has a massive readership? 

  • Reply 9 of 22
    rogifanrogifan Posts: 10,669member
    Maybe if stupid people wouldn't be sending this to other people for "fun" it wouldn't be such a news story.
  • Reply 10 of 22
    fred1fred1 Posts: 1,042member

    On the other hand, blaming journalists always seemed an easy way out for all of us, at least to me. We have manufactured that world  of clickbait ourselves, by:
    1- letting ourselves be baited
    2- not making proper journalism a financially viable enough business
    How many newspapers do you know of in your country that does "proper journalism" and has a massive readership? 

    Yes, well, I guess it's also the fautl of the banks, then when they're robbed, for having so much money.

    How many newspapers in my country? Uh, none! That's my point exactly. Do you know of anyone who has tried responsible journalism and been successful?
  • Reply 11 of 22
    lightknightlightknight Posts: 2,312member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Rogifan View Post



    Maybe if stupid people wouldn't be sending this to other people for "fun" it wouldn't be such a news story.



    But are that many people doing it? We ran tests in the company on several of these "kill strings", and none of our devices crashed... While I do believe the bug exists (if nothing else because Apple issued  a support document), it seems to be unlikely enough to get triggered that most people doing it "for fun" would not get a result, and just drop the matter? I wonder how much of the story is the media repeating an untested information...

  • Reply 12 of 22
    lightknightlightknight Posts: 2,312member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Fred1 View Post





    Yes, well, I guess it's also the fautl of the banks, then when they're robbed, for having so much money.



    How many newspapers in my country? Uh, none! That's my point exactly. Do you know of anyone who has tried responsible journalism and been successful?

    I probably misunderstand you, but it seems you're making incompatible points in the sentences.

     

    As for the question itself: "Do you know of anyone who has tried responsible journalism and been successful?" ---> I know people who have tried responsible journalism. I even know some who have been mildly successful. None have been runaway successes. 

     

    As to your parallel with banks, I don't understand it. The very basis of a market economy is that "people vote with their wallet". If you get a market that's unsatisfying, it's because the wallet of people opens for the wrong things (or, indeed, because people prefer "free" information, that they pay with through eyeball-time, to paid-for, valuable, all-researched, responsible news). It has nothing to do with people breaking the law and stealing money off of banks.

  • Reply 13 of 22
    stu279stu279 Posts: 9member

    But are that many people doing it? We ran tests in the company on several of these "kill strings", and none of our devices crashed... While I do believe the bug exists (if nothing else because Apple issued  a support document), it seems to be unlikely enough to get triggered that most people doing it "for fun" would not get a result, and just drop the matter? I wonder how much of the story is the media repeating an untested information...

    Post your number and I promise it will work first time. When it doesn't work it is either because the messages app is already on screen or you sent the message wrong. 100% success in our testing on iOS 8 (over a lot of devices multiple times)
  • Reply 14 of 22
    Unlikely that this vulnerability was discovered by chance. Devising attacks on a specific, popular platform requires time, money, and expertise.

    Who gains from damaging the image of the most successful phone platform? Competitors.

    Who has the resources needed to uncover such vulnerabilities? Nations.
  • Reply 15 of 22
    roakeroake Posts: 790member
    Apple on Thursday posted a support document detailing workarounds for a recently discovered bug that crashes the iOS Messages app when a specific text string is received.

    <div align="center"><img src=http://photos.appleinsidercdn.com/gallery/13051-7429-13019-7380-150526-Bug-l-l.jpg alt="" />
    <span class="minor2 small gray"></span></div>

    In the Support Pages entry, Apple said it <a href="https://support.apple.com/en-us/HT204897">was aware</a> of an iMessage issue that causes the app to crash when a specific string of unicode text is received, specifically the Arabic characters seen in the screenshot above.

    <ul><li>Ask Siri to "read unread messages."
    <li>Use Siri to reply to the malicious message. After you reply, you'll be able to open Messages again.
    <li>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.</ul>
    Apple says a more permanent fix is in the works for a future software update, though an exact release timeline was not offered.

    The bug discovered <a href="http://appleinsider.com/articles/15/05/26/bug-in-ios-notifications-handling-crashes-iphones-with-a-simple-text">on Wednesday</a> is thought to be a code handling problem; iOS cannot correctly render the block of unicode characters in question. When the text string is sent from one iPhone to another, it sets off a cascade of processing errors that eat up memory and ultimately crashes Messages. In some cases Springboard also crashes, triggering an iPhone reboot sequence.

    Aside from Apple's workaround, users have found that receiving a new message from the same sender halts the text rendering process for that conversation, returning Messages to full functionality. Alternatively, users can send themselves a picture or message using an app supporting Share Sheets.

    Can't quite make that Arabic out. Seems to say something about Obama bin Laden...
  • Reply 16 of 22
    lkrupplkrupp Posts: 10,344member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Slurpy View Post

     

    Fucking amazing how much mainstream media play this has been getting, been splashed on my local news for the past 2 days with leads such as "DO YOU HAVE AN IPHONE? YOUR NEXT MESSAGE MIGHT BE YOUR LAST" and "MASSIVE IPHONE HACK, YOUR TEXTS ARE NOT SAFE". If I didn't know better I would have burned my phone. Unreal. 

     

    Unless you have complete asshole "friends", who also happen to know about this very specific combination of symbols to send, I don't see how you would be affected by this. My contact list spans 800 people, and magically not a single one sent me this shit.




    Well, it’s Apple you know. The top dog always has the bullseye painted on their back, the crosshairs focused in on them, trigger at the ready. Look, we fans have been seeing this for over a decade and we should be used to it by now.

     

    And never fear, when the fix is released we’ll hear from the crowd that always claims it didn’t fix anything for them and it’s still broken. It goes with the territory.

  • Reply 17 of 22
    retrogustoretrogusto Posts: 1,031member

    The Swype keyboard also crashes iMessages on my iP6. I wish somebody would fix that too. (And no, I don't type in Arabic!)

  • Reply 18 of 22
    aeleggaelegg Posts: 99member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by lightknight View Post

     



    On the other hand, blaming journalists always seemed an easy way out for all of us, at least to me. We have manufactured that world  of clickbait ourselves, by:

    1- letting ourselves be baited

    2- not making proper journalism a financially viable enough business

    How many newspapers do you know of in your country that does "proper journalism" and has a massive readership? 


     

    I feel this way too, that "we do it to ourselves".

     

    Flying commercial aviation is a pretty lousy experience as you all know.  Ever more-cramped seats, fees for everything, etc etc.

     

    Yet "we", and myself included, buy plane tickets based on a $2 difference in price.

     

    Where were the consumers (or myself) who said, "I use airline-X.  It's $75 more, but they treat you like human beings and that matters".

     

    Nope.  I helped create the problem by telling the airlines that lowest price is all I care about.



    Then I complain about the evil-airlines.

     

     

  • Reply 19 of 22
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Slurpy View Post

     

    Fucking amazing how much mainstream media play this has been getting, been splashed on my local news for the past 2 days with leads such as "DO YOU HAVE AN IPHONE? YOUR NEXT MESSAGE MIGHT BE YOUR LAST" and "MASSIVE IPHONE HACK, YOUR TEXTS ARE NOT SAFE". If I didn't know better I would have burned my phone. Unreal. 

     

    Unless you have complete asshole "friends", who also happen to know about this very specific combination of symbols to send, I don't see how you would be affected by this. My contact list spans 800 people, and magically not a single one sent me this shit.




    Couldn't agree more. That's why I cancelled cable and just don't watch the news. I'd rather pick and choose what news I read. 

  • Reply 20 of 22
    stu279stu279 Posts: 9member

    Quite a few little things you can do with this bug already. Let's hope it gets fixed properly soon.

     

    image

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