Short Messages Crash Skype and iPhone

The Skype Machine - Flickr

For all of you Skype users, be careful what you type when you send someone a link. Typing the wrong characters could crash the program for the person receiving the link and require reinstallation of Skype. According to VentureBeat, Skype users recently discovered a nasty bug in the app. Sending the characters “http://:” (without the quotes) crashes Skype, and receiving a message with those characters makes it crash any time you try to sign in again. The bug affects Windows, Android and iOS. It does not, however, seem to have any effect on Skype for Mac.

Bugs of this type do not seem to be limited to Skype. Recently, a bug of similar nature was able to disrupt the use of iPhones. As a recent Fortune article explains, a single line of text can freeze or shut down iPhones.

Technology blogs are reporting that a specific text message, when sent to an iPhone from any device, causes the phone to crash, shut down and restart. Unlike the previously mentioned Skype issue that could result from an accidental typo, the iPhone text message is not something people would happen to write in the course of a normal day. If someone texts it to you, they are likely doing it with malicious intentions. For the sake of iPhone users, the exact message is not provided, but it includes the words “effective” and “power” along with a string of characters containing Arabic and Chinese letters.

If you have encountered these bugs, Skype and Apple are providing potential solutions. Skype rolled out updates for its impacted products. For more information, go to the Skype Community Forum. Regarding the iPhone bug, Apple said it will provide a fix with an upcoming software update. In the meantime, some users have found that they can return the iPhone to normal by responding to the sender from a different device, like an iMessage-enabled Mac or iPad.

It is not clear whether the Skype and iPhone bugs were created by accident or by design. Nonetheless, these types of bugs are frustrating and something to continue to watch for given the impact they can have on popular software and devices.

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Ryan Lahti is the founder and managing principal of OrgLeader, LLC. Stay up to date on Ryan’s STEM-based organization tweets here: @ryanlahti

(Photo: The Skype Machine, Flickr)

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