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There’s a new WiFi bug that can seriously mess up your iPhone

If you fall victim to this, you might have to factory reset your iPhone.

ios apple iphone showing apps and wifi connection
Image: Unsplash

It’s not uncommon to jump onto a public WiFi network when you are out and about, but a new bug discovered by researcher Carl Schou shows yet another reason to be particular about which WiFi networks you join.

First reported last week in regards to a unique string of text that used % symbols, this new information shows that it doesn’t need to be extremely specific to work. Essentially, what happens is that when you discover one of these networks, it disables your WiFi. Seemingly, the only straightforward fix is a factory reset of your iPhone or iOS device.

The example Schou gives is %secretclub%power, but the important parts here seem to be the “%s” and the “%p” in the WiFi network name.

9to5Mac sheds some light on the bug and why particular strings of symbols and letters can cause issues for the iPhone. Essentially, as they explain, “[T]he ‘%[character]’ syntax is commonly used in programming languages to format variables into an output string. In C, the ‘%n’ specifier means to save the number of characters written into the format string out to a variable passed to the string format function.”

Then, that string is sent to internal iOS libraries which can then force an overwrite and buffer that will lead to memory corruption.

Regardless of the “how,” the important part here is that there is no easy fix for this WiFi bug. While you can manually edit a backup to remove the offending name, that isn’t exactly easy to do. The only other fix it seems is to do a full factory reset of the device.

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