Killer message strikes Apple products

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The iPhone – and Apple products in general – are praised for their ease of use and ‘it just works’ mentality. However, they have been under attack recently from ‘killer’ messages.

The messages not only affect iPhones, but also related Apple devices that have notifications enabled. In essence, a user can send a specific text message and crash the device, even if the recipient doesn’t read the offending message.

This is troubling, especially considering Apple has propelled itself to the forefront of the technological world.

The truth is, every piece of software has flaws; a fact that Apple has been overlooking in recent times. In 2015, no less than five major flaws have affected Apple products.

Many of us are oblivious to the details of the exploits, as long as the software is kept up to date and the problems get fixed. Recently however, Apple has bucked the worrying trend of not updating often enough – especially when the problems have been identified by third parties and solutions implemented on other platforms.

It is true to say that the message bug isn’t a massive deal. So far, it has not been linked to malicious attacks such as stealing personal information and, by using Siri, a workaround has been found.

The problem is, many exploits like this are malicious and many remain undetected.

In 2015, no less than five major flaws have affected Apple products

Apple is no more immune than Google or Microsoft to attack. With around a 20 percent market share in smartphones (second only to Samsung) one could claim that they are a prime target for attacks.

Furthermore, Apple’s narrow product range makes matters worse, as less hardware variants invariably means less software variations. Like in nature, the more diversity, the less the overall ecosystem will be damaged by a virus.

Macintosh computers, revered for not getting viruses, are receiving more attention from attackers as their market share grows.

A recent blog post highlighted how an inherently flawed system for suspending Mac computers leaves the system open to attack at a very deep level. Needless to say, this is disturbing.

These are all problems discovered by third parties. Why this is important is that it shows that if Apple discover a flaw themselves, they don’t make it public.

While this does wonders for maintaining the myth that Macs aren’t susceptible to viruses, the truth is, Apple needs a revision of its security procedures if it is to remain secure in the dynamic, ever changing world of cyber security.

Photograph: Nathan Borror

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