Any Asshole with Your Phone Number Can Cripple Your iPhone
Thanks to a newly discovered iOS exploit, a text message can now ruin your day. It will literally cripple your iPhone, and the worst thing is that anyone with a phone that supports double-byte unicode can do it to you. While it initially sounded like bullshit, we tried it out several times here, and to our surprise, it worked perfectly each time.
The exploit involves a string of seemingly innocuous characters, which when sent as a text message, causes an iPhone to reboot without explanation. After playing around with it even more, we were able to modify the text string to force-close someone else's Messages app.
The worst thing of all? All of this can be done remotely.
That means anyone with your phone number can mess up your iPhone. That ex-lover you screwed over? That one-night stand you never called back? That asshole friend who loves playing pranks on you? As long as they have your phone number, a simple text will help them get even.
While Apple will add a fix to this in the next software update, as reported by iMore, the vulnerability can still be exploited by anyone, and here's how each attack works.
Attack #1: Reboot an iPhone
On any smartphone that supports double-byte unicode (like iPhones and many Android devices), click on the link below. Copy the text and send it to a friend through your text messaging app. The other person must have an iPhone for this bug to work, although it doesn't matter if they have iMessage enabled or not.
When the other person receives the message above, their iPhone will reboot—unless they're already in the Messages app (then it won't do anything). Below you can see what the phone looks like shortly after getting the text.
Luckily, this does nothing to the iPhone other than reboot it, so you don't have to worry about anything else messing up.
Attack #2: Force-Close the Messages App
Similarly, you can send a modified version of the text string that not only reboots someone else's phone, but also force-closes their Messages app, as well as yours if you're on an iPhone.
Once their phone reboots, if they try to open their Messages app, it will quickly open and close. Unfortunately, as I mentioned above, this will also cause your Messages app to crash, so only commit this kamikaze attack if you're not planning on using your Messages app for a bit.
After I tried out the kamikaze attack, I got worried because I wasn't able to access my text messages and rebooting my iPhone wasn't working. Luckily there are several fixes to this problem, which we'll be showing you very soon, so stay tuned.