Mobile Security Firm Tracks Over 250,000 Messages Exploiting iMessage Bug

We’ve previously reported that a new iOS bug is causing iPhones running iOS 8 to crash. It was first discovered by Reddit users: a specific string of Arabic characters sent to anyone — with an iPhone — as a text message crashes the device. Since it was first reported by media outlets and blogs, the message has been spreading like wildfire. Some send it for fun, but mobile security firm Adaptive Mobile fears that until Apple issues a fix, hackers could make use of this bug.

imessage bug

The bug is possible due to how iOS renders Arabic characters: since it cannot process a specific string of characters, the system cannot understand and decide how to decode it — it shuts down. That’s the reason why your iPhone reboots when you get the message.

The fact is, lots of North American iPhone users have been playing with this bug. Adaptive Mobile detected and blocked more than 250,000 of these text messages. One individual, for example, attempted to send this message nearly 900 times in a half-hour period.

If you have received such a message, or sent it to someone just for fun, you may already know that iMessage becomes useless. There are various ways to fix that: 1) reboot your iPhone, 2) ask the sender to send a regular message that will cancel the “malicious magic,” or 3) respond to the sender either with iMessage or by sending a reply using the share sheet.

Meanwhile, we know that Apple is working on a fix, so let’s wait for that to land.