A single malware-laden message can crash your iPhone and disable messages App permanently. If you own an iPhone you should read this article carefully and avoid clicking on messages with suspicious looking links. A simple text message that comes in your iMessage App could be harboring a highly serious exploit which can crash your iPhone as well as permanently disable your iMessage App.
The message containing the malware is doing rounds around the world. A YouTuber (vincedes13) has uploaded a video that demonstrates how a malicious text that is making the rounds can cause any iPhone to crash. The text message contains an attachment to a large contacts file that is sent via iCloud Drive, which renders the iMessages App useless, is mainly noticed on iPhones running on iOS 9 to iOS 10.2.1 (beta).
In the video, you can see that upon receiving and opening the message and its attachment on the iPhone, the Messages app freezes and then crashes as soon as the recipient taps to open the file containing the malicious code. The Messages app keyboard is rendered useless, and you can only kill the app by getting into the multitasking switcher mode and swipe it away. However, the iPhone crashes when the user tries to open Messages again, throwing up a white screen. The white screen will be displayed for a few seconds before the iPhone crashes and returns to the Home screen again. Apparently, neither a hard reboot of the device doesn’t resolve the problem, nor does turning the device off and then back on again provide any relief.
It seems to be a case of the Messages app being unable to decipher and make sense of an extremely large contacts file being sent to it, therefore rendering itself completely unusable.
Apple will most likely fix this issue for all affected users via an OTA update soon. However, until then, if you receive huge text files on iMessages, please ensure that you do not tap on the file to open it.
This is not the first time a bug has been discovered in iMessage app. In May, a bug caused the Messages app to constantly crash when a certain text was received in an incoming message. If the iPhone was locked when the ‘offending’ message was received, the iPhone supposedly rebooted without notice. However, Apple later introduced a fix for the text crash.
Working as a cyber security solutions architect, Alisa focuses on bug bounty and network security. Before joining us she held a cyber security researcher positions within a variety of cyber security start-ups. She also experience in different industry domains like finance, healthcare and consumer products.