A single line of Arabic characters is crashing Apple computers, iPads and iPhones around the world since it began to circulate the internet at the end of last week.
The mysterious string of text is apparently meaningless, but its ability to cause Apple devices to crash was apparently discovered by a Russian security researcher and posted to a Russian website late last week. A post on the same website alleged that Apple had known about the issue for months, but had yet to take action or correct it.
The text has proven to be harmless for Apple users running OS X 10.9 Mavericks or iOS 7 beta, which seems to mean that Apple has taken precautions to prevent the crashes from effecting new software. Unfortunately, these operating systems are not in wide circulation and the text began to appear on social media sites such as Twitter. Facebook has already taken preventative steps against the mysterious text by banning it from being posted on statuses or comments.
The text takes advantage of an apparent weakness in Apple’s CoreText font rendering framework, because of this it will cause a crash in any app that uses WebKit. Due to this weakness in Apple’s software, the text can cause crashes on Safari, via SMS, or even if it is used as the name of a wireless network.