Published: Thu, July 12, 2018
Tech | By

IPhone crash? Might have been China's dislike for Taiwan's flag

IPhone crash? Might have been China's dislike for Taiwan's flag

And given the relationship China has with Taiwan, the company might be appeasing the Chinese government with its flag blockade.

In case you didn't know, Apple removes certain emojis at China's request. That code likely represents a favour from Apple to the Chinese government, which for the last 70 years has maintained that Taiwan is a part of China and has no legitimate independent government.

The bug (CVE-2018-4290) also had a temporary fix, and that was to go and switch your region on the iPhone from China to USA, and then switch it back to China.

Prior to the software update, the baffling bug allowed anyone to crash a vulnerable device by simply sending a text with the Taiwanese flag.

Anyone with that language setting wouldn't see the emoji but would instead see a square with a cross through it.


Apple iOS 11.4.1 brings a USB restricted mode for iPhones, iPads and here's how it will work. This feature is supposed to make it more hard for hackers - as well as law enforcement and government agencies - to unlock your iPhone. It would also occur upon receipt of a message containing either of these.

The intended behavior of this code is not to crash your phone, obviously. Emojipedia also confirms this on its site by saying, "This flag is hidden from the emoji keyboard on iOS devices where the region is set to China". He had no trouble reproducing the remotely triggerable bug, which crashed any iOS application that processed remote messages, including iMessage, Facebook Messenger, and WhatsApp.

He said the emoji triggered a crash in iOS as the censored version of the operating system read it is an "invalid input", rather than a symbol missing from Apple's library.

An earlier report in Reuters had said that Apple would make changes in iOS to ensure that hacking tools used by some government agencies, companies like GrayShift, Cellebrite, to gain access to iPhone data, where the passcode was not available, would no longer work. China claims sovereignty over Taiwan, leading to a great deal of tension that extends even to emoji.

Security researcher Patrick Wardle announed that he had been helping Apple fix a bug that would crash apps displaying the word "Taiwan" or the Taiwanese flag emoji. These restrictions drove Google to end its Chinese business operations a decade ago.

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