The 'Text Bomb' That Can Crash Your Phone With One Message

Photo: Eylul Aslan
You may have heard people bandying about the term "text bomb" in recent days, but if you've so far been too busy or scared to google the phrase, it's worth reading on.
A "text bomb" is a bug currently in circulation which has the ability to crash any Apple iPhone or Mac, and anyone could be affected. The bug is also going by the name of ChaiOs, a portmanteau of "chaos" and iOS. Fitting indeed.
Simply being sent a message containing a link to malicious code is enough to freeze or crash your device – even if you don't click the link. It reportedly causes iPhones to crash and/or restart, while on a Mac it makes Safari crash and slows it down in various other ways.
Annoyingly, it means that if someone – a troll, for instance – wanted to inconvenience you, all they'd need is your phone number.
The bug was discovered by software developer Abraham Masri, who found it while trying to break the operating system and posted it on software development platform GitHub last week.
However, while the text bomb is extremely annoying, it doesn't pose a risk to your data, make you more vulnerable to hackers or cause permanent damage to your iPhone or Mac.
"Something about the so-called ChaiOS bug's code gives your Apple device a brainstorm. Ashamed about the mess it gets itself in, Messages decides the least embarrassing thing to do is to crash," wrote security expert Graham Cluley.
"Nasty. But, thankfully, more of a nuisance than something that will lead to data being stolen from your computer or a malicious hacker being able to access your files." Phew.
Apple is thought to be working on a fix but until then, there are ways to protect yourself. If you receive a link to the GitHub where Masri posted the link, delete the thread if possible. If Messages keeps crashing, try restoring your device to factory settings (ensuring you've backed up all your photos and saved data, etc. first), Masri advises. In general, it's also worth ensuring your iOS is up to date, as this makes your device more secure.
Some people have also recommended blocking GitHub's domain on the iPhone via Settings > General > Restrictions > Enable Restrictions > Websites > Limit Adult Content > Never Allow >
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