iOS 10.3 fixes 9-11 Spamming Bug

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Apple dropped iOS 10.3 this week, and beyond adding a new file system and a “Find My AirPods” app, the new update fixes several dangerous and annoying bugs.

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Back in October of 2016, Meetkumar Desai, an 18-year old, was arrested after writing a piece of software that allowed iPhones to continuously call 911 over and over – resulting in a DDoS-style attack that overwhelmed many 911 call centres across the US.

This attack was possible due to a bug in iOS that allowed users to tap any phone number and then dial it.  Desai’s code utilized this flaw: simply clicking on a malicious link would have the iPhone dealing 911 without it’s owner ever realizing it.

This allowed multiple callers to repeatedly call 911 without being aware of it, hogging the call centre phones lines and ultimately putting lives at risk

As a result, iOS 10.3 requires users to hit a confirmation before dealing any call.  The Wall Street Journal, which wrote a key piece into this investigation, explained Apple’s approach:

“Apple says it initially worked with app developers to fix the vulnerability, and this update will now prevent it from happening even on apps that hadn’t already fixed the issue.”

Carriers and Phone makers alike are struggling to come to grips with various styles of attacks targeting the 9-11 emergency system.  Earlier in March, so-called ‘ghost calls’ from T-Mobile phones flooded the Texas 9-11 call centres, an attack which has been linked to two deaths in the state.  AT&T users faced 9-11 outages in over a dozen states around the same time.

[Wall Street Journal via Cult of Mac]

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