Beware! If you open a text, tweet, or email with a particular symbol it could crash your iPhone or Mac!

While iOS is famed for its security, with Apple striving to create an impenetrable operating system, from time to time, Apple users can fall victim to attempts by hackers and tricksters wishing to take advantage of bugs and vulnerabilities in the operating system.

Unfortunately, sometimes these bugs and vulnerabilties are taken advantage of, leaving user's devices glitching, or worse, exposing them to security risks.

Usually Apple quickly patches such bugs leaving iPhones (and Macs) safe, so Apple devices are usually only vulnerable to these sorts of attacks for a few days. That's a good reason to keep your iPhone or Mac up to date, find out about the latest versions of iOS and the latest version of MacOS here.

Read more about what Apple does to improve security here: How Apple protects your Mac from malware and Do iPhones get viruses?

In the latest 'Black Spot Of Death' incident an iMessage could crash your iPhone, iPad and likely your Mac.

This isn't the first time a text message bug has done the rounds with the potential to crash iPhones and other devices, we also have details about previous incidents below.

In this article we will offer advice on how to avoid falling victim to these sorts of pranks, and what can do if you do fall foul to one. We’ve got all the help you need, right here.  

Black Spot of Death

The latest text message to cause iPhones to crash is known as the “Black Spot of Death”. If you are unlucky enough to receive it, you will see a black circle emoji.

The black spot actually contains a series of HTML characters that can cause the iPhone to crash.

The malicious text first struck in WhatsApp for Android.

How to avoid the Black Spot of Death

To stop the message causing issues, it is suggested that you do the following:

  1. Force quit messages by double pressing the Home button and then swiping up on Messages (swipe up and hold on the iPhone X).
  2. You can either ask Siri to send a message back to the person who sent it (to ensure it is no longer the most recent message), and then open messages and delete that conversation.
  3. Or you can use 3D Touch (hard press) on the Messages app icon and choose New Message and then Tap Cancel. You’ll then be returned to a list of your Messages - swipe left on the offending message to delete it.

It looks like the issue might have been fixed in a new beta version of iOS 11 as phones running the latest beta aren’t affected.

What is the Telugu text bug?

Two Unicode symbols from the Telugu language can crash iPhones, iPads, Macs, Apple Watches and Apple TVs. 

The issue is due to poor handling of certain non-English characters by Apple's operating systems.

Telugu is a language spoken in India and the issue is with two characters from that alphabet.

If you open a text, Mail, Twitter, Messages, Slack, Instagram or Facebook and the character is visible, on your iPhone or other Apple device it could crash the software. It may be impossible to open the app again, with the only fix being reinstalling the app. 

How to avoid the Telugu text bug

Apple has issued an update to iOS 11, so to avoid the bug, install iOS 11.2.6.

What is the ChaiOS bug?

The malicious link - which points to a GitHub page - is capable of crashing iOS and macOS if you click on it from the Messages app.

It might only crash the Messages app, but it could cause you to be returned to the lock screen, or worse, freeze or even restart the device.

Twitter user Abraham Masri, who identified the issue, says the link could cause devices to freeze, respiring, lag, and on occasion, experience battery issues. Respring is a term used to describe the device restarting from SpringBoard (iOS's graphical user interface), it takes about 10 seconds and returns you to the lock screen.

It can also cause problems with Safari on the Mac, according to 9to5Mac report.

Being referred to as the ChaiOS bug, or the return of “Effective Power”, a similar attack from 2015, this isn’t really a security concern, because it won’t give anyone access to data on your device, but it would be a nuisance if you were to click on the link.

How to avoid the ChaiOS bug

If you do receive the iMessage with the link don’t click on the link.

If you have already clicked on it apparently reopening the message could crash your device again, so the best practice is to completely delete the thread (and probably remove the person from your contacts if you considered them a friend in the first place!)

What is the rainbow iPhone text crash bug?

The rainbow iPhone text crash bug hit in January 2017 and could disable an iPhone, although not permanently. This particular bug could affect any iPhone running almost any iteration of iOS 10 and there was not a lot users could do to protect themselves from it.

Unlike with previous iPhone bugs (like the video crash bug described below) that required the user to interact with something to crash the phone, this bug could crash a user’s iPhone without them even opening the text. There were two versions of the bug: one would crash your iPhone once, while the other would continue to crash your iPhone repeatedly. To stop people trolling and potentially bricking iPhones, we’re staying tight-lipped on how to do the latter.

However, as revealed by EverythingApplePro on YouTube, the non-threatening version of the bug only requires two emoji and a number – a white flag, a zero and a rainbow. It's in the description of the YouTube video for those that really want to troll people. But why does it crash? The trick is that there’s also a hidden VS16 character that tells the two emoji to combine to make a rainbow flag, but as iOS 10 cannot handle the request, it’ll crash the iPhone instead.

How do I recover from the rainbow iPhone text crash bug?

Your iPhone should restart seconds after turning off and should go back to normal, but we recommend deleting the text and thread from the Messages app. But what happens if the Messages app freezes when you open it? Don’t worry, as it’s fairly easy to fix. It’s worth noting that this method should fix issues brought by not only the “harmless” bug, but also the one that continues to crash your iPhone for some time afterwards.

  1. Open Safari on your iPhone and head to vincedes3.com/save.html
  2. Heading to the website should force a dialogue box to appear saying “Open this page in Messages”. Tap Open.
  3. This should redirect you to your Messages app, hopefully without it crashing. Once you’re in the app, delete the malicious text thread along with the Vincedes text and your iPhone should be back to normal.

What is the iPhone crashing video, and why will it make my iPhone crash?

Back in November 2016 a video bug started doing the rounds that could cause temporary issues for iOS users, with some using it as a way to prank friends, family and those that are gullible enough to fall for it on the internet.

The bug affected anybody that attempted to play a certain .mp4 video in Safari on any iOS device as it would cause the device to slow down and eventually freeze altogether. As you can see in the below video, viewing the video in Apple’s default web browser would cause iOS to overload and over time, become unusable.

The most likely reason why the crashes were happening was that the video file was corrupted with a memory leak that iOS wasn't sure how to handle. Other theories include the possibility that the video has an extra structure at the end of the file with no defined size, along with the claim that it’s just an issue with the h.260 video codecs.

The bug affected any iPhone running iOS 5 or later, with those running the (at the time current) iOS 10.2 beta 2 suffering the most. Those running the beta were be greeted with the spinning wheel usually displayed during shutdown, although the phone itself wouldn't shut down.

How to avoid the iPhone crashing video, and what to do if your phone has crashed

If you’ve fallen victim to the video and your iPhone has crashed – don’t worry, as there’s an easy fix available. The solution? Force restart (or soft restart, as it’s also known) your iPhone by holding the Home and Power buttons at the same time. The process of force restarting an iPhone 7 and 7 Plus is slightly different due to the software-enabled Home button, and requires users to hold down the Power and Volume Down buttons at the same time to restart the device.

But how do you avoid falling victim to this prank while Apple works hard to patch the vulnerability? There isn’t a lot that you can do to avoid it, sadly, although most users report that the videos come from vk(dot)com and testtrial.site90(dot)net. If true, it should be as simple as not clicking on any links that friends send you that feature either domain in the URL.

The good news is that it doesn’t appear to leave any lasting damage on your iOS device, and it should be back to normal once force restarted. Apple will no doubt be working on a patch right now, and it should be delivered via an OTA update in the coming days. Once Apple releases the update, simply update your iPhone to the latest version of iOS and you should no longer have the issue – even if you do play the video in Safari.