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iPhone users should avoid Wi-Fi networks with strange names as they can break your phone's connectivity

The newfound bug stops the Wi-Fi functions on iPhones from working altogether, leaving users unable to switch on their Wi-Fi and connect to any network.

(Image: India Today) (Image: India Today)
Story highlights
  • A new bug has been found in the wireless connectivity on iPhones.
  • iPhone users are being warned that the bug could leave them unable to use Wi-Fi connectivity on their devices.
  • The bug has been reported in more than one versions of iOS.

A new iPhone vulnerability has been found that can break its wireless functionality just by establishing a Wi-Fi connection. Post the crash, the newfound bug renders iPhones unable to use Wi-Fi altogether, even if the device is restarted.

The vulnerability has been found and tested on multiple iOS versions by security researchers online. It is associated with specific SSIDs that make use of multiple symbols instead of a word.

Upon connecting to hotspot or Wi-Fi networks with such names, it was found that the iPhones lost all their ability to use Wi-Fi functionality. If the user turned on the Wi-Fi after this, it would quickly turn off every time. The functionality does not return even if the device is restarted or the hotspot name is changed:

The only way to regain the Wi-Fi functions if an iPhone gets affected by this bug is to reset its network settings. For this, iPhone users can go to Settings > General > Reset > Reset Network Settings.

The bug was first reported by reverse engineer Carl Schou. In a tweet, Schou stated that the Wi-Fi functionality on his iPhone was permanently disabled after he joined his personal Wi-Fi with the SSID "' %p%s%s%s%s%n."

Schou cleared that neither rebooting nor changing SSID fixes the bug. Schou performed this experiment on his iPhone XS, running iOS version 14.4.2. Subsequent tests performed BleepingComputer confirmed the bug on iOS 14.6 as well.

A report on the issue by the publication mentions that multiple tests on the strange SSID would cause the Wi-Fi settings on the iPhones to function erratically. Every test led to the same result: the iPhone's wireless connectivity stopped working completely.

The report also states that connection to the SSID even failed in some tests and that the team could still not access the regular wireless network on their iPhones. Results like those of Schou were also experienced.

The bug seems to be restricted to iOS and does not affect Android devices. As can be understood, the bug can be used by threat actors to disable Wi-Fi settings on iPhones by tricking people into using password-free hotspots (with such SSIDs) in public areas.

Of course, the issue would be temporary and can be fixed easily, but only if you know what is causing the problem and how to solve it. So make sure to share this new discovery with your friends and loved ones who are using an iPhone.