All too often, we see iOS bugs that can render an entire app unusable. In the past, these errors affected Apps like Safari and Messages. However, a new bug in iOS 16 can completely prevent you from using the Mail app with a single email containing strange text in the From field. Here are the details and how they affect each postal service…
iOS 16 Mail app crashes due to rogue text
The flaw was discovered by the folks at Equinux, making a file VPN Tracker Service For Mac and iPhone. The team discovered this bug in iOS 16 while analyzing spam emails.
We’re starting to see iOS Mail issues for many people on our team: Mail was crashing immediately upon launch.
It turns out that the team all received the same spam message. Looking at the initial source of the message didn’t immediately reveal any red flags – it was a basic HTML email. However, a look at the mail headers showed that the spammers had done something unusual in the From field.
Typically, the From field in an incoming email looks like this:
- From: firstname.lastname@example.org.
But the malicious email has a “from” field that looks like this:
- From: “example.com .”.
What this means, according to Equinux, is that “anyone can email any iOS 16 user they can lock from their inbox.” They did Create a shape On their website you can use it to test for bugs, which they refer to as “Mailjack”.
Mailjack can affect the Mail app on any device with iOS 16 (the stable version), iOS 16.0.1 on the iPhone 14, and the latest iPadOS 16 beta, but there are some caveats. Some mail services, including Gmail, Outlook, and Hotmail rewrite incoming emails to prevent such things from happening.
In addition, Gmail and Yahoo block these emails completely. But one email service that doesn’t do anything to protect against these emails is iCloud Mail, which is Apple’s first-party option. There are also a number of IMAP mail services that “do not correct or rewrite incoming mail”.
A simple way to test is to use your iCloud email account, but note that it may be flagged as spam (you need to check your spam folder). Note that not all email providers will deliver the message as they may rewrite the emails before they are delivered to the device.
Email can also be reserved in the ‘spam’ inbox. In this case, the Mail app will crash every time you look at the spam box. This is better than if the email were to appear in your primary inbox, but emails are able to escape to your primary inbox quite easily depending on the sender.
The solution to this problem, for now, is to delete the email from your account on a non-iOS 16 device or via a different mail client:
Once you delete email from your account using another device, a different email client or on the web, Mail refreshes your inbox and stops crashing. Moving email to a subfolder in your IMAP email account will fix your inbox, but mail will crash again if you move to that folder.
We have reached out to Apple for comment. Nowadays, you can Mailjack defect test For yourself on the Equinux website or just check out the GIF below. (I’ve tested it and don’t recommend trying it, but it’s up to you.)
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