‘chaiOS’ bug can break your iPhone’s Messages app and freeze your device with a link

As if Apple didn’t have enough on its plate dealing with backlash caused by shady iPhone “power management” operations, yet another major iOS bug has been discovered.

Nowhere near as critical and wide-reaching as recently detailed Spectre and Meltdown CPU vulnerabilities, or as annoying as those weird autocorrect bugs, the so-called chaiOS defect can still wreak quite a bit of havoc.

Someone who secretly hates you or loves to torment you only needs to text you a link that looks pretty harmless at first glance, and in most cases, your iPhone’s Messages app will crash. Repeatedly. Your mobile device could even freeze for a few minutes, then respring, aka exit the app and send you back to the lock screen.

Opening Messages again will at the very least cause irksome lag, more often than not throwing you back in the aforementioned loop. Worst of all, the harmful link will lead to a crash or freeze even if you leave it alone and never actually tap on it. Oh, and the bug, which seems to affect iPhones running software as old as iOS 10.0 and as new as iOS 11.2.5 beta 5, can also break Apple’s Messages app on various macOS builds.

The good news is the guy who found the flaw, and actually created the link, has no intention of causing harm. The only reason he chose to go public is that Apple ignored his bug reports. The original webpage hosted on GitHub is no longer available, which is also good news, but unfortunately, “chaiOS” copycats may still be out there, lurking in the shadows and waiting to be sent to unsuspecting victims. Until a fix is officially released, you can’t do much to work around the issue, especially if you receive a link to an unknown website.

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About The Author
Adrian Diaconescu
Adrian has had an insatiable passion for writing since he was in school and found himself writing philosophical essays about the meaning of life and the differences between light and dark beer. Later, he realized this was pretty much his only marketable skill, so he first created a personal blog (in Romanian) and then discovered his true calling, which is writing about all things tech (in English).