A security guard and his iPhone’s wifi have been strangely familiar with Murphy’s law in recent weeks. Based on their experience, we now know another damn wifi network that we should avoid. But this time, your iPhone doesn’t even need to connect to the network to make mistakes.
Back in June, security researcher Carl Schou found this out attached to the network “% P% s% s% s% s% n”, his iPhone permanently disable its wifi functionality. Fortunately, this was fixed by resetting all network settings, which erased the bad wifi name from their phone’s memory. You’d think it would be the end of connecting to networks with weird and heavy names, but you’re not Schou.
On Sunday, he decided try your luck again investigating a public wifi network called “% secretclub% power”. According to Schou, only having an iOS device in the vicinity of a wifi network with that name can permanently disable its wifi functionality.
“You can permanently disable WiFI from any iOS device by hosting a public WiFi called% secretclub% power,” he wrote on Twitter. “Resetting network settings is not guaranteed to restore functionality.”
Schou apparently struggled to find his way out of this and get his wifi functionality. He said he repeatedly reset network settings, was forced to restart his iPhone, and even contacted the Apple device security team. The researcher finally received some help from Twitter, which advised him to manually modify an iPhone backup to remove malicious entries from the plist files of known networks.
Gizmodo has not tried this repair, so if you find yourself in this situation, proceed with caution. It’s not clear what exactly is causing this bug, but some believe that the percentage sign and the characters that follow could be confused with a string format specifier, or a variable or command used in encoding languages. When it’s handled by the phone, it apparently leads to problems.
We’ve all had a hard couple of months (and then some) and the last thing we need is trolls setting up public wifi networks with “% secretclub% power” to make our wifi disappear. As long as Apple doesn’t fix these bugs in a future update that we hope will come sooner rather than later, it might be a smart idea to completely avoid public wifi networks, and rely solely on your iOS device’s mobile data when you’re on the go. away from a wifi network you know is safe.