Skip to main content

Don’t let your iPhone connect to Wi-Fi networks with this name

Connecting your iPhone to certain strangely named Wi-Fi networks may leave you without internet access until your phone’s network settings are wiped, as discovered by security researcher Carl Schou last week. This newly discovered bug would break your phone’s Wi-Fi settings, restricting you from enabling your Wi-Fi in some cases, or from connecting to older Wi-Fi networks in others.

“After joining my personal [Wi-Fi] with the SSID “%p%s%s%s%s%n”, my iPhone permanently disabled its Wi-Fi functionality. Neither rebooting nor changing SSID fixes it :~),” Schou tweeted. Reporting on this issue, Bleeping Computer also found that the bug affected iPhones running on operating systems as recent as iOS 14.6.

Related Videos

After joining my personal WiFi with the SSID “%p%s%s%s%s%n”, my iPhone permanently disabled it’s WiFi functionality. Neither rebooting nor changing SSID fixes it :~)

— Carl Schou (@vm_call) June 18, 2021

The root cause of this issue has been attributed to a format string error. This means that iOS is reading the text in the name as a command to execute due to the presence of the “%” symbol and then crashing upon failing. The bug does not exist on Android phones.

For users affected by it, the only way to fix Wi-Fi is by resetting the network settings and clearing all stored network data. With iPhones caching data and network names, rebooting would not be sufficient to fix the error once it is triggered. On an iPhone, this is as easy as going to Settings > General > Reset > Reset Network Settings.

This bug seems unlikely to be a cause for concern. There’s little potential for anything other than mischief. Even in that case, for it to be a problem, it would require bad actors to set up Wi-Fi networks with that name and users to actively attempt a connection. You could also reduce your vulnerability by turning off the auto-join hot spot setting on your iPhone just to be extra safe. This can be done by going to Settings > Wi-Fi and changing the setting from Automatic to Ask to Join or Never. As security researcher @CodeColorist points out in a blog post explaining the issue, it would be more effective to simply set up a phishing website.

Digital Trends has reached out to Apple for comment and will update this article when we hear back.

Editors' Recommendations

The Pixel 8 just leaked, and it has one big thing I can’t wait for
Google Pixel 8 in depicted in white.

For another year, Google’s next-gen phones are out in the wild months ahead of their grand reveal at a fancy event. Just a day ago, the Pixel 8 Pro was unceremoniously leaked, and now, the standard Pixel 8 has also received the same treatment. OnLeaks and MySmartPrice have shared reported renders and a 360-degree video depicting the upcoming Google phone from all angles.
The design changes are subtle, but easy on the eyes. Just like the Pixel 8 Pro, the corners are once again more rounded on the Pixel 8. The frame is metallic, and there’s a horizontal camera strip at the back with a metallic luster on top. Akin to the Pixel 7, we get two cameras on the Pixel 8, sitting in a pill-shaped cutout.

Another small aesthetic tweak is the earpiece grill at the top, which is now more prominent than what we saw on the Pixel 7 and Pixel 7 Pro. If the current-gen Pixels are any indication, the Pixel 8 is going to offer an excellent in-hand feel. Talking about in-hand feel, though, it appears that Google is once again pandering to the small phone loyalists.

Read more
5 things we’d love to see at Google I/O 2023 (but probably won’t)
Google Pixel Watch on a wrist.

Google's annual developer conference, Google I/O, kicks off on May 10. Don't let the words "developer conference" put you off, though, as Google I/O is one of the biggest and most exciting shows of the year.

We've already covered what we expect to see at Google I/O 2023, and that list includes the Pixel 7a, Android 14, and even a Google Pixel Fold. But although those are all things we're really looking forward to and expecting to see, there are a number of reveals we'd also love to happen ... but are extremely unlikely to appear on the grand stage.

Read more
I’ve used Android phones for 10 years, and I hate these ones the most
pixel 4 xl rear sticking out

I’ve been using and reviewing Android smartphones for at least a decade, and during that time, I’ve spent time with a massive variety of devices that mostly fall into three distinct categories: good, passable, and bad. But what about the ones that have really stirred my emotions in a negative way? The phones that have elicited a visceral, guttural response? I’m not talking about the ones I love, but the ones I’ve downright hated.

Here are the six models that have irked me the most over the last 10 years of using and reviewing smartphones, and the reasons why they’ve made this list.
Google Pixel 4

Read more