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iOS users who receive a simple text message with a three symbol rainbow risk crashing their iPhones and iPads. The bug causes the devices to temporarily freeze, as soon as the malicious message is sent to users, via two methods.

If you device runs on iOS 8 and above and you receive a message containing a white flag emoji, a zero and a rainbow emoji, you will not even have the chance to open it, because your iPhone or iPad will completely freeze without any warning. A YouTuber has posted a video in which he demonstrated how the bug works and he sent a message from his iPhone from another. The moment the message was received, the recipient didn’t even open it, and his phone crashed instantly.

It seems that there are two forms of the malicious message: the one we’ve told you about and which contains a hidden character called a variation selector, and the other involves embedding the text string into a contact file and sharing it on iMessage, from iCloud Drive.

Vincent Desmurs was the one who discovered the bug and the malicious contact file and he posted more information about them, as well as fixes, on his blog. According to Guardian, the devices that are affected by the first method run on iOS 10.1 – iOS 8, while the other method affects all versions of iOS 10, including iOS 10.2. However, Desmurs claims that the contact card variant affects even devices upgraded to the latest version 10.2.1 beta 2. Luckily, Apple has patched the bug in beta 3.

The good news is that the damage isn’t permanently, as the freeze lasts around three minutes, depending on the iOS version, then the device is brought back to life. So, after all, this bug is not that harmless, and the YouTuber has admitted that he used it to scare his friends, making them believe that their iPhones will never work again.

The reason why iPhones and iPads freeze is because they are unable to read the message. Desmurs has explained that “When your victim clicks on the message, their Messages app will attempt to load a large amount of data that couses the system malfunction. However the text in the file is very complicated for the system and causes a CPU average and freezing the app. If you close the app and try to reopen it, iOS will try to reload the previous message but can’t because it’s the same file containing too much text for the system to handle properly.”

Have you fallen victim to your friend’s pranks and was your iPhone temporarily frozen because of this message?

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