Arabic Text Message Shuts Down Apple Devices
A text message is circulating that crashes the Messages app on iPhones and other Apple devices because of a flaw in how iOS handles Unicode.A simple text message that can crash Apple devices has been sent as a prank by more than a quarter of a million people in the past 24 hours. The Short Message Service (SMS) text combines two English words "effective. Power" and a string of mostly Arabic script. Because of a vulnerability in the way the iOS operating system handles the encoded characters in notifications, the string crashes Apple iPhones that display the message. More than 1 million of the SMS texts have been sent in the past 24 hours, according to mobile-security firm AdaptiveMobile. While any vulnerability that allows a system crash holds the potential to be exploitable, no researchers have yet demonstrated that capability. "While the vast majority of these are probably pranksters, one security concern here is that a hacker can leverage this issue to execute immediate denial-of-service attacks, and that any business with a heavy reliance on iOS could be targeted and blocked from their own devices within a matter of seconds," Cathal McDaid, head of data intelligence and analytics at AdaptiveMobile, stated in a May 27 blog post.
This is not the first time the iPhone has fallen prey to an attack coming through SMS. In 2009, security researchers Charlie Miller and Colin Mulliner demonstrated an attack on the iPhone 3 that allowed them to take full control of the device by sending special code snippets through SMS.