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As a reminder, Apple still hasn’t fixed the issue iPhones are facing with the device called “Flipper Zero.” Despite rolling out a bunch of new features and bug fixes in iOS 17.1, the update doesn’t include a fix that will protect the handheld from becoming unusable when the hacking device is used near it. Worse, the device reportedly now has a dedicated “iOS 17 Lockup Crash” option, which could literally make your iPhone, well, crash.
Different occurrences of the attack have been reported in the past months. In September, a researcher underscored the severity of the issue, which can bring users absolute inconvenience. The researcher explained that Apple‘s devices heavily rely on Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) protocol. This allows the devices to communicate or announce their presence via advertising packets. This is a huge help for Apple’s devices to establish the seamless connectivity experience of the brand. The protocol, however, can be used by Flipper Zero, which can deliver fake advertising packets to devices when customized with codes.
The device can spoof the advertising packets of legitimate devices, resulting in “a plethora of phantom devices in the vicinity of an iOS user.” With this, as shown in the demo, the iPhone will repeatedly receive Bluetooth advertisement pop-ups. Although they can be canceled, the pop-ups will continue to appear as long as the receiving device (iPhone) is within the range of the Flipper Zero.
The solution for this is to deactivate the device’s Bluetooth, but it won’t be that simple for iPhones. To recall, Apple made a change in the iOS 11 update, making the Bluetooth icon in the Control Center a temporary solution for disabling the function. This means using the option will only put the Bluetooth on time out, allowing it to activate automatically the next morning. With this, Apple users have to go to their Settings app and deactivate the connectivity from there in order to effectively disable Bluetooth.
Unfortunately, this remains an issue even in iOS 17.1 and just got worse when Apple released the iOS 17. In the latest custom Flipper Zero firmware, “Xtreme,” there are a handful of new features that make the hacking device more effective. Aside from now being able to attack Windows and Android devices, the new firmware that is still in development build includes other attack options, including the “iOS 17 Lockup Crash.” The attack can lock up and crash the iPhone. According to ZDNET, it was observed working on iOS 17.0.3 and doesn’t seem to work on iOS 16. As such, it seems Apple made some changes in iOS 17, making the iPhone more vulnerable to attacks like this.
With all this, we’re hoping Apple will finally address this issue (alongside others) in iOS 17.1.1, which is reportedly being tested now by the company. We will update this story once we get Apple’s comment.