A tiny device is responsible for sending iPhones into never-ending denial-of-service (DoS) loops. As of now, the only surefire way to keep your iPhone safe is to turn off your Bluetooth connection in public places, which can be rather annoying.
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Security researcher Jeroen van der Ham (via Ars Technica) says he was on a train the other day, and his iPhone started rebooting, showing a connection to an Apple TV beforehand. When he looked around, he saw he wasn’t the only one, as other iPhones were suffering from the same issue.
He said he tried to turn on Lockdown Mode, but it didn’t help. On his way back home, it started happening again. He says: “Amazing coincidence, this person happens to be in the same carriage on my way back. I recognized him and asked him to stop that (…) This was not just testing this on the train to see if the DoS technique was working; this person had this on for 1,5 hours straight on the train, where everybody around him sees their Apple devices rebooting constantly.”
Attacks using Bluetooth will become more common, and you can’t do much to stop it
Ars Technica explains that these types of hacks have always been possible, but they required “special equipment and a fair amount of expertise.” Now, with a $200 Flipper Zero, almost anyone with little knowledge of complex radio frequency hacking can perform these attacks.
This new attack seems to focus on iOS 17 devices, so if you’re still running iOS 16, it won’t affect you. Van der Ham tested a few ways an attacker can use this device to hack your iPhone. One of the ways is just an annoying message showing that a Bluetooth low-energy device is nearby. Another one, for example, makes your iPhone crash – the one used by the hacker on the train.
The only workaround at the moment is turning Bluetooth off in the Settings app. Toggling off Bluetooth from the Control Center isn’t enough.
That said, it doesn’t seem the attacker can compromise your device by accessing your data; they will only annoy you. Apple has yet to acknowledge this attack or issue an update to fix how some communicators can interfere with your iPhone.