Apple released an update for its devices which fixed an unusual bug: due to one symbol జ్ఞా from the Telugu language, the company’s devices rebooted and many applications such as iMessage, Facebook Messenger, and WhatsApp were not available. Google-translator translates this symbol as a “sign”.
The “Telugu error” happened when using the “Messages” messenger or through the “Safari” browser on iPad, MacBook, Apple TV, and even on smart watches.
The authors of the Italian blog “Mobile World” demonstrated the problem on an iPhone with the “Messages” messenger running. It “crashed” if the problem symbol was sent in the chat. The iPhone restarted if the character was sent repeatedly.
The company’s programmers quickly tried to release a patch for the vulnerability which allowed attackers to send a “text bomb.” For example, you could trigger the Uber driver’s application to crash if you added the character to your user name.
The reason for such a reaction of Apple’s systems to the Indian symbol is not yet clear. Unicode Consortium specialist Philippe Verdi believes that the cause may be an Apple algorithm for text rendering. The Mozilla engineer, Manish Goregaokar, conducted his own research and suggested that the character leads to something like a buffer overflow. This would confirm Verdi’s theory.
This is not the first such bug in the company’s products. In 2015, Arabic characters caused a reboot of iOS. And in 2017, a problem was caused by a combination of two emoji and one number. Recently, a bug was found in the APFS file system which allows you to work with so-called sparse disk images. Such images appear in macOS High Sierra and can be modified and supplemented. But if the image takes up too much space on the disk the new data added to the image will simply be lost. And the user will not receive any notification that the space is full.