IPhone: beware of the message that locks your phone forever

As happened a few years ago, iPhones are crashing and unusable because of a message. Here's how to shield yourself from the threat and fix it

If this sounds like déjà vu, you're not wrong at all. iPhone owners should beware of the text messages they receive on iMessage, the communication platform created by Cupertino's developers and working only with devices from the bitten apple. As Project Zero's security researchers pointed out, a message with an anomalous text string is enough to send the iPhone and the Mac into a tailspin.

And, just as it happened a few years ago, the damage produced on the phone is irreparable (or almost). The Apple operating system, in fact, cannot process the message, thus creating a "vicious circle" from which it cannot recover. In short, pay attention to the messages that you will receive in the next few days: maybe in your contact list is hiding some good-timers who want to throw you a bad, bad screen.

The message that blocks forever the iPhone

The message that knocks out the iPhone has been discovered by Natalie Silvanovich, developer of Google's computer security team (Project Zero is a spin-off of the Mountain View company specialized in bug research). Receiving the message has different effects depending on the device used: if you open it with a Mac (MacBook or iMac makes no difference) it causes a restart of a process, but the bitten apple PC still continues to work.

On iPhone, however, the situation is much more serious. If you open the message with the "bad" string of code, the operating system loops (i.e., it tries to decipher the messages without succeeding) and the phone no longer responds to user commands. The GUI is effectively unusable and the phone starts to reboot itself, but without giving the user a chance to use the device. In short, the iPhone is locked forever.

What to do if you receive the message that locks your iPhone

First of all, if you haven't done it yet, update your applephone. The Messages bug discovered by Silvanovich has been fixed with iOS 12.3: all phones running this version of the operating system are actually immune to the bug and, therefore, do not freeze.

In case you haven't managed to update your iPhone in time, Silvanovich has identified three different methods to manage to unlock your iPhone and return it to its "former glory". All three, however, will result in the loss of all data in the memory of the iPhone: photos, messages (text and WhatsApp) and all documents stored on the device will be deleted and will be lost forever. Per questo motivo è sempre consigliabile effettuare il backup dell’iPhone regolarmente, in modo da poter recuperare le proprie informazioni personali in casi di questo genere.

Cosa fare, dunque, nel caso si riceva il messaggio che blocca l’iPhone? Ecco le tre soluzioni individuate dalla sviluppatrice Google:

  • Collegarsi a iCloud con il proprio Apple ID, avviare Trova il mio iPhone, individuarlo nella lista dei dispositivi e resettatelo alle impostazioni di fabbrica
  • Avviare l’iPhone in modalità di recupero, collegarlo al PC e ripristinarlo con iTunes
  • Togliere la SIM e allontanarsi da ogni Wi-Fi cui si è connessi. Avviare il dispositivo e ripristinarlo alle impostazioni di fabbrica