A security researcher and his iPhone’s WiFi network have strangely gotten to grips with Murphy’s law in the past few weeks. Based on his experience, we now know of another cursed WiFi network to avoid. But this time around, your iPhone doesn’t even have to connect to the network to screw anything up.
Security researcher Carl Schou found this out back in June when he joined the network “% P% s% s% s% s% n”, his iPhone the WLAN functionality is permanently deactivated. Fortunately, resetting all network settings fixed this, which cleared the rogue WiFi name from his phone’s memory. You’d think that would have been the end of the connection to networks with strange and fishy sounding names, but you’re not schou.
On Sunday he decided try his luck again by examining a public WiFi network called “% secretclub% power”. According to Schou, only an iOS device near a WiFi network with this name can permanently deactivate the WiFi functionality.
“You can permanently turn off WiFi on any iOS device by hosting a public WiFi called% secretclub% power,” he wrote on Twitter. “Resetting the network settings does not guarantee that functionality will be restored.”
Schou apparently struggled to get out of this and get his WiFi functionality back. He said he reset network settings several times, restarted his iPhone and even contacted Apple’s device security team. The researcher eventually got help from Twitter, who advised him to manually edit an iPhone backup to remove malicious entries from the known network’s plist files.
Gizmodo hasn’t tried this fix yet. So if you find yourself in this situation, proceed with caution. It is not clear what exactly is causing this error, but some believe that the percent sign and the characters that follow it could be confused with a string format specifier or a variable or command in programming languages. When processing over the phone it apparently leads to Problems.
We all had a tough couple of months (and then pome) and the last thing we need is for trolls to set up public WiFi networks with “% secretclub% power” to make our WiFi go away. Until Apple fixes these bugs in a future update, which hopefully will arrive sooner rather than later, it might be a smart idea to avoid public Wi-Fi networks altogether and only rely on your iOS device’s mobile data when you aren’t are on a Wi-Fi network that you know is safe.