A recently discovered iOS 14 bug can break your iPhone’s WiFi, but luckily there’s a simple fix.
A recently discovered iPhone bug can interrupt your WiFi by permanently turning it off, and restarting your device won’t fix it. First reported by beeping computerthe bug was discovered by reverse engineering Carl Schouwho started having problems connecting to a named personal wifi hotspot %p%s%s%s%s%n on his iPhone running iOS 14.4.2.
He tried to fix it by changing the SSID and restarting his iPhone, but neither option helped.
Schou wrote in a Tweeter: “After joining my personal WiFi with SSID “%p%s%s%s%s%n”, my iPhone permanently disabled its WiFi functionality. Neither restarting nor changing the SSID solved the problem.
Schou said the issue when naming the network this way was present when using an iPhone XS, running iOS 14.4.2. But Bleeping Computer also tested the bug on an iPhone running the latest version of iOS, iOS 14.6, and the problem was still there: WiFi broke when connecting to the “oddly named” wireless network.
A security risk
In theory, this bug could pose a security risk because it could allow malicious hackers to plant WiFi hotspots to allow people’s iPhones to connect to them without a password, breaking their devices (although temporarily). The bug could not be reproduced on Android, so it appears to be isolated to Apple’s iOS operating system. Security experts believe that an input parsing issue is likely the cause, in simple terms it means the % character could confuse iOS with programming commands and variables.
“While iOS is extremely clever, the ‘%’ character can trip an operating system into thinking it’s an alter ego of another language,” says iOS specialist Jake Moore. cybersecurity at ESET. “Fortunately, this bug is not permanent, but with an evil spirit, malicious actors could exploit those who click on it and take advantage of their situation.
I asked Apple for a comment and will update this article if the iPhone maker responds.
The solution is simple: just reset your network settings by going to Settings > General > Reset > Reset Network Settings.
And when using your iPhone, always be careful not to connect to random Wi-Fi hotspots. “It goes without saying that users should be wary of unknown WiFi connections,” Moore says. “Threat actors have long used red hotspots to nab their prey because it remains a quick and easy attack vector for unsuspecting victims.”
In general, you should avoid unknown hotspots in order to keep your iPhone as secure as possible and if you need to use WiFi in cafes or hotels for example, it is advisable to use a VPN. But for the best security, I would always advise to use the cellular network when you are on the move, i.e. 4G or 5G.