‘Taiwan’ bug crashed Apple iPhones

The glitch wouldn’t have surfaced if the company hadn’t tried to appease Chinese government

By Author  |  Published: 12th Jul 2018  4:17 pm
Taiwan bug
Representational image

A code added to appease the Chinese government was the culprit behind a bug that crashed iPhones of some users when they wrote Taiwan or used the Taiwanese flag emoji, claims a security researcher.

The bug, which is now fixed, was spotted in iOS 11.3, security researcher Patrick Wardle, a former hacker for the US National Security Agency, wrote in a blog post.

This bug was remotely triggered and crashed all iOS application that was processing remote messages on an affected device.

Though its impact was limited to a denial of service (null-pointer dereference), it made for an interesting case study of analysing iOS code.

And if Apple hadn’t tried to appease the Chinese government in the first place, there would be no bug.
Many tech companies have to write a code to adapt to China’s strict rules, including its denial of Taiwan’s independent status.

Wardle found that certain language/region settings would return a null code, prompting the crash when referencing the island. He also found that one could fix it by switching back and forth between China and another region.
Apple patched the bug in iOS 11.4.1.