New iPhone Bug Breaks Your WiFi: Here’s The Fix | #ios | #apple | #iossecurity


A newly-discovered iOS 14 bug can break your iPhone’s WiFi, but thankfully there is a simple fix. 

A newly-discovered iPhone bug can break your WiFi by permanently disabling it, and rebooting your device won’t fix it. First reported by Bleeping Computer, the bug was discovered by reverse engineer Carl Schou, who started having problems when logging into a personal WiFi hotspot named %p%s%s%s%s%n on his iPhone running iOS 14.4.2.

He tried to fix it by changing the SSID and rebooting his iPhone, but neither option helped.

Schou wrote in a tweet: “After joining my personal WiFi with the SSID “%p%s%s%s%s%n”, my iPhone permanently disabled its WiFi functionality. Neither rebooting nor changing SSID fixes it.”

Schou said the issue when naming the network in this way was present using an iPhone XS, running iOS 14.4.2. But Bleeping Computer also tested the bug on an iPhone running the latest iOS version, iOS 14.6, and the issue was still there—WiFi broke when connecting to the “strangely named” wireless network. 

A security risk

In theory, this bug could be a security risk because it could allow malicious hackers to plant WiFi hotspots to allow people’s iPhones to connect to them without a password, breaking their devices (albeit temporarily). The bug could not be replicated on Android, so appears to be isolated to Apple’s iOS operating system. Security experts believe an input parsing issue is probably the cause, in simple terms, this means the % character could confuse iOS with programming commands and variables. 

“Although iOS is extremely intelligent, the ‘%’ character can trip up an operating system by confusing it into thinking it’s an alter ego from another language,” says Jake Moore, cybersecurity specialist at ESET. “ Luckily, this bug isn’t permanent but with a devilish mind, malicious actors could exploit those who click on it and take advantage of their situation.”

I have asked Apple for a comment and will update this article if the iPhone maker responds.

The fix

The fix is simple: Simply reset your network settings by going to Settings > General > Reset > Reset Network Settings.

And when using your iPhone, always beware of connecting to random WiFi hotspots. “It goes without saying that users must be cautious of unknown WiFi connections,” says Moore. “Threat actors have long used rouge hotspots to catch their prey as it remains a quick and easy attack vector for unsuspecting victims.”

In general, you should avoid unknown hotspots in order to keep your iPhone secure as possible and if you must use WiFi in cafes or hotels for example, it’s advisable to use a VPN. But for optimum security, I’d always advise using the cellular network when out and about—ie 4G or 5G—instead.





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