“Last April, while security researcher Patrick Wardle was attending the RSA security conference in San Francisco, a Taiwanese friend who lived in the city asked to meet for coffee, and for his help with what she described as a serious problem: China, she said, was hacking her iPhone,” Andy Greenberg reports for Wired. “Wardle… met his friend in person [and] she showed him something bizarre: Every time the Taiwanese flag emoji appeared on her iPhone for any reason, the app that had displayed it instantly crashed. That meant, essentially, that anyone could crash Wardle’s Taiwanese friend’s phone at will, simply by sending her any text message that triggered a notification and included the Taiwanese flag.”

“In the months since, Wardle has worked on and off to deconstruct that emoji mystery. What he found — and helped Apple fix — wasn’t the targeted hacking of his friend’s iPhone,” Greenberg reports. “Instead, it was an unintentional bug in a very intentional censorship feature, one that Apple includes in every iPhone in the world in an apparent attempt to placate the Chinese government. ‘Basically, Apple added some code to iOS with the goal that phones in China wouldn’t display a Taiwanese flag,’ Wardle says, ‘and there was a bug in that code.'”

“That code likely represents a favor from Apple to the Chinese government, which for the last 70 years has maintained that Taiwan is a part of China and has no legitimate independent government,” Greenberg reports. “But Wardle found that in some edge cases, a bug in the Taiwan-censorship code meant that instead of treating the Taiwan emoji as missing from the phone’s library, it instead considered it an invalid input. That caused phones to crash altogether, resulting in what hackers call a denial-of-service attack that would let anyone crash a vulnerable device on command.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Ah, the perils of kowtowing too hard; you’ll knock yourself silly and not be able to censor… er, code straight.

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