The %p%s%s%s%s%n wireless network
A new vulnerability in Apple’s iOS operating system has been found that disables iPhones from connecting to Wi-Fi networks.
A wireless network issue was spotted where after connecting to a network with an SSID named “%p%s%s%s%s%n”, the iPhone’s Wi-Fi features gets completely disabled. Even after restarting the phone or changing the network’s name, the iPhone’s Wi-Fi feature remains permanently blocked.
According to researchers, if the problem is not fixed, bad actors may be able to hack the device by deploying malicious Wi-Fi hotspots with the unusual name and completely break the wireless network feature. As per the details that are available, the problem comes from a string formatting flaw in the way iOS parses the SSID input, which causes a denial of service.
Android devices are not at risk of this bug at the moment, as the problem occurs only on iPhones as of now. Those devices that have been affected, however, would need a reset of their iOS network settings. This can be done by heading to Settings > General > Reset > Reset Network Settings and confirming the operation. As of the time of this writing, Apple has not commented on the flaw.
Users who are concerned about a possible exploitation of their iPhone may find relief in the fact that, the vulnerability is triggered only after they connect to that strangely named Wi-Fi network where the SSID is visible. If you are an iPhone user and want to stay safe, the general recommendation is to always be on the lookout for random wireless hotspots when using your device. This is common sense, and as such it goes without saying that users should be careful about connecting to potentially unfamiliar or oddly named Wi-Fi networks. Rogue hotspots, have been utilized by threat actors for a long time since they’re a simple and fast attack vector for naive users.
Therefore, to keep your iPhone as safe as possible, you should avoid connecting to free and unfamiliar hotspots. If you do use a hotspot from a coffee shop or hotel, the best way to stay protected is to use it through a VPN. For maximum protection, though, it is always recommend utilizing 4G or 5G cellular data when out and about.