08-29-2013 12:56 PM - edited 08-29-2013 12:58 PM
There's a new bug in town, and it's here to crash your Mac and iPhone applications. Posters in a HackerNews thread from late yesterday have discovered that it's possible to crash Web browsers and other apps running on current versions of iOS and OS X by making them render a specific, nonsensical string of Arabic characters. The title of the HackerNews thread implies that the issue is with the WebKit browser engine, but it actually affects any browser or application that uses Apple's CoreText API to render text. Ars Microsoft Editor Peter Bright has taken great pleasure in sending the text string to his co-workers, which has crashed the Limechat IRC client and Adium chat client, among other programs.
Safari crashes in both OS X 10.8.4 and iOS 6.1.3 when it attempts to read the text string, and rendering the string in the current stable release of Chrome prompts the browser's typical "Aw snap!" error page (though Chrome's sandboxing implementation keeps the bug from bringing the whole browser down). Firefox, which uses its own font rendering engine, can display the text just fine. This supports the idea that it's a CoreText issue and not a problem with any particular application.