Update (1:00PM ET): Apple confirmed to BuzzFeed that a fix will be included in a software update coming next week. Meanwhile, GitHub restored Abraham Masri’s account. So everyone is doing their part to acknowledge and squash this bug.
Just continue to be on the lookout for any suspicious links, and don’t open if you have even the slightest doubt regarding their authenticity.
Original (12:00PM ET):
Always be careful of the links you receive, but today we’re telling you about one in particular to avoid for sure. Someone discovered that there’s a vulnerability on Apple’s entire lineup that brings devices to a sudden halt if a specific link is opened. It’s essentially a bug that freezes your iPhone, iPad, or Mac immediately but doesn’t actually do any harm.
Abraham Masri, a U.S. developer known for his work jailbreaking the iPhone countless times, discovered what’s being described as a “text bomb.” He brought the bug to everyone’s attention on Twitter after hosting an HTML file for the link on GitHub.
Here’s the URL for the freeze-inducing link: iabem97[dot]github[dot]io/chaiOS. We’ve inserted the brackets referencing dots because, if we used the symbol instead, our readers could accidentally hit the link and end up in the troublesome situation. None of us want to see your device freeze, so we’re sharing what you should be on the lookout for.
Protecting yourself from this vulnerability isn’t difficult. You can block the URL on whatever web browser you’re currently using. If you accidentally open the link and just wish to frustrate yourself for fun, you might be in for a wait to get your device back up and running. The Message’s app on your device should automatically reboot at some point.
In the event your device’s app doesn’t reboot and return to normalcy, a factory reset might be the only option. So really it’s not the worth testing the bug just because you’re bored and wondering what happens.
As for the developer behind the bug’s discovery, Masri says he’s been banned from GitHub. The hosting service seemingly issued the ban to protect other users from freezing up their own devices but more importantly leveraging the bug against others’ devices. Since Masri already got the word out and several publications have covered the story, Apple is likely already aware of what’s happening and working on a patch.
Until then, this vulnerability will continue affecting unsuspecting iPhone, iPad, and Mac owners.