iPhone users, take note – your Wi-Fi access may get abruptly disabled if you encounter this Wi-Fi network name. While this may seem familiar for being a bug that was already reported some time ago, it appears that the previous bug was not a one-off. According to a new report by the same cyber security researcher, Carl Schou, while the previous bug prevented iPhones from connecting to Wi-Fi networks after encountering a Wi-Fi ID named ‘%p%s%s%s%s%n’, the new bug breaks Wi-Fi services on an iPhone by encountering a Wi-Fi SSID named ‘%secretclub%power’. However, the new bug might just be worse – while the previous bug required a user to try and connect to the network in order for Wi-Fi to get disabled on an iPhone, the new one can completely disable Wi-Fi on iPhones by the user just being in range of the latter.
According to reports, the issue likely lies in the iOS network code stack, which is flagging network names with character string sequences such as ‘%p’, ‘%s’ and ‘%n’ as bugged ones. With the latest SSID name, encountering one within range of an iPhone can completely disable Wi-Fi services on the respective device, and this in turn will not revert back by simply resetting the device’s network settings. Instead, users will be required to perform a full hard reset of the iPhone in order to enable Wi-Fi services again, therefore signifying a much greater ordeal than the previous bug. The latter disabled a user’s iPhone Wi-Fi services, which could be reverted by simply resetting the network settings.
Thankfully, the issue is now being widely reported, which mostly means that Apple will introduce a software update soon that fixes the glitch. Apple has typically always been prompt at fixing unexpected bugs in its code framework that may break certain iPhone services, particularly if it is universal in nature. Given that the bug applies to the code behind the iOS software rather than specific devices, the glitch most likely applies for all iPhone users around the world. For the time being, users are advised to disable searching for Wi-Fi networks when out in public, in order to not face such an ordeal.
Character string glitches are not too uncommon, but can have dire consequences. Popular messaging app WhatsApp has been the victim of quite a few of these, where specific character strings exploited loopholes in the app’s code stack to make the app crash every time a user tried to open it – hence making the service almost entirely unusable. For such bugs, the only real solution is to avoid the bug inducing character strings at any cost, and update the app or software as soon as a fix is released.