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Avoid Apple’s Messaging Glitch Crashing Your Devices

by | Jun 23, 2015 | IT Security

The recent messaging glitch that caused Apple products to crash was a hot topic in the news. Not only can this glitch effect iPhones, it also had the power to cause iPads and even Macs to crash if they received a malicious message. It is little more than a nuisance to receive the message, with doubts that it could be used to carry out harmful cyber attacks, but nevertheless it can waste valuable time in order to resolve the problem of the crashed device.

But what actually is it, why does it crash Apple devices and how can you avoid it crashing yours?

The glitch means that people can purposefully crash someone else’s Apple product if they send a particular sequence of arabic characters in a message and it is the way in which the characters are presented in the banner notification.

The software on Apple devices tries to abbreviate the characters into an ellipsis but this is unsuccessful and causes the device to crash and reboot. However, that isn’t the only problem: victims found that, even when the phone had restarted, they were unable to open their Messages app. Of course, this problem started off as an accident, but once people had read about it, started to send messages as a prank.

This forced Apple to reconsider their software, and a spokesperson from the company recognised that they would have to ‘make a fix available in a software update.’

But, until Apple have fully developed the update that makes it possible for their devices to withstand the abbreviation of the characters, a quick fix was made available.

While it does not stop the devices from crashing when they receive the particular message, it does mean that you can re open the Messages app and use it once again.

These are the steps:

  1. Tell Siri to ‘read all unread messages’
  2. Tell Siri to reply to the malicious message, the text of the message is unimportant. After replying to the message, you will be able to open the Messages app yourself.
  3. Either swipe to delete the whole thread of texts from the sender, or delete the single message in the particular thread.

Users of Apple devices can also avoid phones from crashing by turning off banner notifications for messages. This means that the text isn’t abbreviated, so the device will not crash. Also, if the device is linked to an Apple watch and the watch receives the notification for the phone, it will not crash when it receives the string of Arabic characters.

Of course, these aren’t permanent solutions to the real system flaw and are simply a means of bypassing around the real issue, but they do mean that you can avoid the frustrating crash and save the time of rebooting your device.

[Photo Credit:  Robert S. Donovan]

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