A new bug has been discovered in iOS, which will cause your iPhone to permanently disable its WiFi functionality. The bug was spotted by a reverse engineer Carl Schou and first reported by Bleeping Computers.
According to Schou, this bug surfaces when trying to connect to a WiFi named with the SSID %p%s%s%s%s%n. This leaves millions of devices around the world vulnerable to exploitation. Once this bug is triggered, iPhone users will not be able to turn on their device’s WiFi capabilities whatsoever, and even a reboot won’t fix it.
After joining my personal WiFi with the SSID “%p%s%s%s%s%n”, my iPhone permanently disabled it’s WiFi functionality. Neither rebooting nor changing SSID fixes it :~) pic.twitter.com/2eue90JFu3
— Carl Schou (@vm_call) June 18, 2021
As seen in Schou’s tweet embedded above, he tried to connect an iPhone to his personal WiFi that uses the SSID ‘%p%s%s%s%s%n, and the iPhone refused to connect then disabled its WiFi.
The iPhone Schou used was running iOS 14.4.2 and the one used by Bleeping Computers to confirm his claim was running iOS 14.6. Android devices are not affected by this bug.
When I personally tried this on my iPhone 11 running iOS 14.5.1, the phone refused to connect to the WiFi, but still Z
According to CodeColorist, the flaw is a Format String Bug generated due to the operating system reading certain characters like “%” as a command rather than a name. They also claim that this bug can be used by hackers to exploit devices or cause malicious damage.
The bug is similar to the SMS flaw, which surfaced last year and caused widespread messaging problems on iPhones.
How to fix the issue?
Apple has not revealed any statement regarding this bug, nor has it released a fix for it till now. However, there is a method that you can employ to fix the issue, but take note that it is only a short term fix and requires users to reset their iPhone’s network settings.
Affected users can reset their iPhone’s network settings, which will erase all of your saved WiFi passwords. You can do this by heading to Settings > General > Reset > Reset Network Settings. This method will erase all of your WiFi passwords and is not a permanent fix, which means your iPhone can be affected n number of times and you will again have to reset your device’s network settings.