The text that crushes iPhones doing rounds

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There is a malicious text that is doing rounds that will crush your iPhone. The message is a specific string of Arabic characters. The text is not a virus but a glitch in the iPhone,the Arabic characters are processed and displayed in alerts. People are not taking the text seriously and it’s being used as a prank between friends.

It’s not entirely certain how the glitch in the iPhone was discovered, but it’s spreading really first via Reddit, then social media. The problem appears to be with the way messages appear in notifications. Normally, when you get a message in English, a portion of it will appear, the rest, if it’s long enough, will disappear off screen with an ellipsis or when non-Latin characters, like Arabic, get sent, they can confuse the phone, which doesn’t know where to put the symbol. When the device can’t fix the problem, it just reboots. Which is at best annoying, and at worst can really mess up your work or cut off your conversation.

Tom Scott, a British engineer and TV personality known for his explanatory YouTube clips, he tackled the interesting bug in a video published. In the video, Scott speculates the bug is triggered by a string of Arabic in the middle of the text message, and the iPhone’s confusion in trying to shorten it. The phone receives a message, says Scott, it shortens it to a length suitable to be displayed as a notification. In English, this can be achieved by simply cutting off words and characters. In Arabic, however, characters sometimes shrink when they become part of a word. This means that when characters are deleted, the word can split into its more space-consuming characters and become physically longer, despite having fewer letters in it.

As long as people keep sending you the text, your phone will keep crashing. Whilst the issue is being treated as a joke by many, others have highlighted the potential dangers. Tim Erlin, from the cyber security firm Tripwire, told Yahoo: “The ability to remotely disable someone’s iPhone could be useful in targeted attacks. Imagine if an organization’s information security team was suddenly unable to communicate while an attack on their organization was being carried out.”

Apple released a statement providing that they are aware of an iMessage issue caused by a specific series of Unicode characters and they will make a fix available in a software update. A temporary fix was released which is; firstly go to settings, then notifications, then messages, then show previews, then off. written by BBC NEWS

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Erick Vateta
Tech Editor at Kachwanya.com
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Erick Vateta is a lawyer by training, poet, script and creative writer by talent, a model, and tech enthusiast. He covers International tech trends, data security and cyber attacks.
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