Apple squashes bug that caused Taiwan to crash iPhones

Having just released iOS 11.4.1 to the masses, Apple's focus was very much focused on squashing bugs rather than rolling out new features. In fact, the full list of security fixes included in the update can be found on the company's website but, of particular interest is the second entry regarding how emoji were handled under certain circumstances.

While the impact description may seem fairly "run of the mill" as far as flaws are concerned, the conditions under which the flaw was triggered prior to its correction in iOS 11.4.1 are perhaps of interest.

Patrick Wardle, Digita Security's chief research officer, was taken in by the plight of a Taiwanese friend who could not type the word "Taiwan" or receive a message containing a Taiwanese flag without causing a crash on their iPhone. This would occur despite having a fully patched device, prompting Wardle's investigation and analysis to identify the underlying cause.

Ultimately, the researcher found an error in emoji suppression logic that may have been included at the behest of the Chinese government, given the country's claim that Taiwan is a territory of China rather than it being an autonomous entity. The offending code was supposed to replace Taiwanese flag emoji with a crossed box but, due to an oversight, a null pointer error was created resulting in the crash scenario.

So while this error has been laid to rest in iOS 11.4.1, one may wonder what else may be lurking under the covers in order to appease the wishes of authorities around the world.

Source: Patrick Wardle via ZDNet | Image via MacRumors

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