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TechNewsWorld.com

Suggestion Glitch Crashes Safari Browser

By Richard Adhikari
Jan 27, 2016 3:25 PM PT
safari-browser-glitch

Apple's Safari browser has been crashing on Macs and iOS devices when users launch a search through its address bar, according to reports that surfaced Wednesday.

OS X and iOS users worldwide have been affected, according to The Verge, which confirmed the problem on several iOS devices and at least one OS X machine.

One of the first mentions of the glitch was a tweet by app developer Phillip Caudell, who asked if anyone else's Safari browser on the Mac mysteriously stopped working.

Disabling the "include search engine suggestions" fixed the problem, Caudell later tweeted.

The problem affected English, French and German language versions of Safari but not the Dutch version, according to developer Steve Troughton-Smith.

Further, iOS 7 and earlier versions weren't affected.

Apple reportedly has fixed the problem.

Hit and Miss

"It happens for all search engines, have confirmed that," Troughton-Smith tweeted. "They all go through Apple's API."

"Merely tapping the address bar on iOS 9.x crashes Safari right now," Troughton-Smith wrote. "Not only has Safari been killed outright on OS X, but it affects every iOS device too. You can't make this stuff up."

Only impacted people whose suggestions cache had updated while they were using their devices between 1:00 a.m. and 4:00 a.m. PST were hit, the BBC said. So, users in Europe were more likely to have been affected than others.

However, not everyone was impacted.

"Working fine on five devices," Pete Dillon wrote on Troughton-Smith's Twitter feed.

Danilo Torisi couldn't crash his devices when he tried.

"I've decided to stop trying to make them crash, I'll keep enjoying my lucky devices," he wrote.

"We have a Radar and a fix identified. It is lower level than WebKit," said Timothy Hatcher, WebKit developer experience manager at Apple.

At this point, the issue is a nuisance, said Laura DiDio, a research director at Strategy Analytics. She didn't have a problem with her two MacBooks and her iPhone.

The glitch will see most users switching off Safari Suggestions, Troughton-Smith opined. "Few will re-enable, too. iOS 10 will have to force-enable."

Apple's Software Issues

Safari for Mac wouldn't resolve Twitter's shortened "t.co" links, according to idownload. That issue apparently has been around since last fall.

Apple identified a fix for that problem, Hatcher said earlier this month, using language identical to his response regarding the latest Safari search glitch.

That raises the question of whether perhaps the search glitch was caused by the same bug.

Safari on the Mac and iOS earlier this week became the target of a prank site, crashsafari.com, that caused the browser to crash.

Although a solution to the crashsafari.com problem quickly appeared, "the possibility that this technique can be used to install a malicious program cannot be ruled out," Tripwire researcher Craig Young told TechNewsWorld.

Mac users last fall were forced to reinstall apps they downloaded from the Mac App Store because a security certificate expired overnight.

Is Apple's Cybersecurity Up to Snuff?

These issues raise questions about the quality of Apple's security. Are its customers now more vulnerable to hacks?

"The number of attacks and their sophistication are scaling at a much faster rate than security on all platforms," observed John Gunn, VP of corporate communications at Vasco Data Security.

"The worst is yet to come," he told TechNewsWorld.

The real problem is the increasing interconnectedness of devices, suggested Strategy Analytics' DiDio.

"As things get more connected, the volume, velocity and variety of traffic go up and these things will happen," she told TechNewsWorld. "I think it's a sign of the times."

Apple did not respond to our request to comment for this story.


Richard Adhikari has written about high-tech for leading industry publications since the 1990s and wonders where it's all leading to. Will implanted RFID chips in humans be the Mark of the Beast? Will nanotech solve our coming food crisis? Does Sturgeon's Law still hold true? You can connect with Richard on Google+.


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