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The text message that can turn off iPhones

iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus

Malicious text message switches off iPhones and locks people out of their messages

A serious bug in iOS is allowing pranksters to crash other people’s iPhones simply by sending them a text message. Users who receive the message can find themselves locked out of their Messages app or have their phone switched off automatically when receiving the text.

Expert Reviews isn’t publishing the offending message in plain text to prevent others from copying it and using it maliciously. But the message is shown in the graphic below, and is being widely distributed via social media: 

Expert Reviews hasn’t been able to replicate the bug itself. However, several reputable tech publications have verified that the malicious text message is effective, including The Verge and Mac Rumours. Twitter is also awash with users complaining they’ve been sent the offending message. 

The malicious message is reportedly effective when sent from Android and Windows Phone handsets, as well as other iPhones. Senders of the message can unlock the victim’s handset simply by sending them another text message, but that of course relies on the goodwill of the sender. Sending yourself a text message from another device or telling Siri to “send a message to myself” may also clear the bug.

Find out what’s coming in iOS 9

Reports suggest victims can also cancel out the malicious message by replying to the offending text via the iMessage service on Macs – but that only works if the message was sent via iMessage in the first place. Not every iPhone user will have access to a Mac, either. 

A simpler workaround is to go into the Settings app, tap Notifications and then Messages and switch off the slider which says “show on lock screen”. You also want to choose “none” in the “alert style when unlocked” setting – thanks TechRadar.

Apple has yet to comment on the bug, but reports suggest the company is aware of the problem and is working on a fix. 

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