Apple's Messages app could be permanently killed at the hands of one dangerous message, according to a new report.
A security researcher going by the handle vincedes3 created a vCard that contains more than 14,000 lines of code. When the vCard is sent to an unsuspecting Messages user, it causes Messages to freak out and crash repeatedly. Even after you reset your device or turn it off and back on, the trouble continues.
The result? A flaw that renders Apple's iOS Messages app completely useless.
The flaw, which was earlier reported on by Gizmodo, is actually a problem with iOS. Apple's Messages app doesn't have the ability to interpret exceedingly sophisticated vCards, causing the Messages app to crash. While that's not necessarily a big deal (most vCards have no more than 300 lines of code and they're handled well in iOS) Apple's app automatically tries to open the last text message for users. Therefore, it creates a loop when there's a glitch in Messages that users can't escape.
While the flaw has been affecting iOS users since iOS 8, according to vincedes3, it's never been a problem, since few people are trying to send vCards with that many lines of code. However, vincedes3 said that his tool is designed to highlight the flaw and illustrate that while iOS might be a generally secure operating system, it can still fall victim to sophisticated hackers.
In fact, the vCard flaw is the second iOS Messages exploit this year. The first, which surfaced over the summer, would have allowed hackers to kill a person's iOS device whenever they opened a TIFF image containing malicious code.
Although the vCard flaw isn't easy to overcome, it can be circumvented once you find yourself in that endless loop. According to vincedes3, you can simply send a text message via Siri, which will prompt the Messages app to open that text instead of the vCard. From there, simply remove the vCard text and you should be fine.
If that doesn't work for some reason, vincedes3 has also launched a "save" webpage you can click on that will stop the flaw from running amok on your device.
But if anything is certain, be wary of any vCards your hilarious friends decide to send your way.