iMessages Going to Wrong iPhone "Isn't a Bug" Claims Apple

In December, an apparent bug appeared in Apple's iMessage service that allowed iMessages to be sent to a stolen iPhone. Earlier this week, Gizmodo reported that a customer who went to Apple's Genius Bar began receiving iMessages to and from the Genius who helped fix their phone.

It appears that the Genius took his personal SIM card and inserted it into the customer's iPhone as part of a series of unofficial and unapproved diagnostic efforts to fix the customer's phone. An Apple representative explained to The Loop's Jim Dalrymple that the issue in the Gizmodo story wasn't a bug, but instead was the result of the Genius not following protocol.

“This was an extremely rare situation that occurred when a retail employee did not follow the correct service procedure and used their personal SIM to help a customer who did not have a working SIM,” Apple representative Natalie Harrison told The Loop. “This resulted in a temporary situation that has since been resolved by the employee.”

The act of installing an employee's personal SIM card into a customer's iPhone is obviously not an approved procedure at the Genius Bar. However, the fact that the Genius wasn't supposed to perform this act does not mean that this was merely an "extremely rare situation".

In the Gizmodo situation, a customer was having difficulties with her iPhone 4 and took it to the Genius Bar to be serviced. When it was returned, the phone was in perfect working order, except for one thing: it displayed every incoming and outgoing iMessage meant for the Genius. Because he had inserted his personal SIM card into the iPhone during the diagnostic process, it registered with Apple's iMessage servers and began sending all of his messages to the customer's phone.


A number of customers have reported similar iMessage issues, including messages continuing to go to a stolen iPhone after a remote wipe and a SIM card deactivation. This is obviously an unintended action, and though Apple explains the solution to be "toggle iMessage on and off" in the Settings app, that is an impossible act to perform remotely on a stolen phone.

(Image via Ars Technica)

Top Rated Comments

(View all)
Avatar
114 months ago
Apple needs to implement a simple solution:

You go to apple.com/imessage

Sign in with your Apple ID and you can see all iOS devices associated with that account (listed with the device name, serial number and the last time it was used).

This page would allow you to remove any of the devices from that page and they stop receiving iMessages from your account.

The same functionality could be added to the Settings app in iOS or as a separate App if they really wanted to.

Some people have said that you can do this by deleting the device from your products list on the Apple Support page, but that doesn't work for everyone.
Score: 37 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
114 months ago

I'm confused. My iphone was stolen a couple months ago. Tracking went off a day later to an area of businesses I was the night before. They all denied having it. Does this mean some chump is reading my messages?


If so, you should use it to your advantage:

iMessage: Hi Harry, Couldn't find you, so I left the money with Jeff at [address of your workplace]. Just drop by and ask for "Jeff" and let him know you are here to get the money.
Score: 21 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
114 months ago
As someone who tends to sell the previous model and upgrade each year, this worries me. I always perform a wipe and restore but what prevents a new (legitimate) owner of my phone from receiving iMessages intended for me?

It seems like this issue must be related to the iMessage servers refusing to unlink previously used devices.
Score: 15 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
114 months ago
Wow, to me this is far worse than Jobs, "You're holding it wrong."

Their response is totally ignorant to the actual issue. People aren't upset that some random genius is now getting his messages sent to another phone... they're upset that there are ways that can happen!!!!

Talk about sticking their head in the sand and refusing to take responsibility and fix a bug that really should be fixed.

As some one else said, do I now have to worry when I sell my phone that some one else is going to be getting my texts?
Score: 13 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
114 months ago
This is happening on my iPhone. And I didn't steal it. I just borrowed it, indefinitely, from some dude I don't know.
Score: 12 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
114 months ago
Please Apple, please stop embarrassing yourselves.

Just fix it. And say you're working on fixing it. Now. This isn't something that you are secret about to generate a bit of buzz. It's a major security cockup. They happen. But you're making it worse.

Phazer
Score: 11 Votes (Like | Disagree)

Top Stories

First iPhone 12 Mini Hands-On Video Surfaces [Update: Video Pulled]

Wednesday October 28, 2020 1:21 pm PDT by
Apple's iPhone 12 mini and the iPhone 12 Pro Max aren't set to be available until November 13, but a Romanian YouTuber got his hands on the iPhone 12 mini and showed it off today, offering a size comparison between the iPhone 12 and the 12 mini along with going over some of the device's features. The iPhone 12 mini is identical to the iPhone 12 in design and functionality, but it has a...

Apple References Unreleased 2020 16-Inch MacBook Pro in Boot Camp Update

Monday October 26, 2020 8:42 am PDT by
Last week, Apple released an update for Boot Camp, its utility for running Windows on a Mac. While this update would typically be unremarkable, several of our readers noticed that the release notes reference an unreleased 2020 model of the 16-inch MacBook Pro. While this could easily be a mistake, the 16-inch MacBook Pro is nearly a year old, so it is certainly a worthy candidate for a...

After Mocking Apple, Samsung May Remove Power Adapter From Galaxy S21 Box

Tuesday October 27, 2020 4:29 pm PDT by
Samsung's Galaxy S21, coming in 2021, may not include a power adapter or headphones in the box, according to reports from Korean media sites highlighted by SamMobile. Rumors earlier this year also said that Samsung was considering removing these accessories from future smartphone models, but that didn't stop Samsung from mocking Apple for selling the iPhone 12 models without a power adapter...

Report: Apple Silicon iMac Featuring Desktop Class 'A14T' Chip Coming First Half of 2021

Tuesday October 27, 2020 4:14 am PDT by
The first iMac powered by Apple Silicon is set to arrive in the first half of next year and will feature a desktop class "A14T" chip, according to Chinese-language newspaper The China Times. Codenamed "Mt. Jade," Apple's first custom-made desktop processor will be twinned with its first self-developed GPU, codenamed "Lifuka," both of which are being produced using TSMC's 5-nanometer process, ...

iPhone 12 Ceramic Shield Still 'Scratches at Level 6 With Deeper Grooves at Level 7' in Mohs Hardness Test

Wednesday October 28, 2020 7:10 am PDT by
iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 Pro models feature a new Ceramic Shield front cover that is "tougher than any smartphone glass," according to Apple, but the displays on the devices still have similar scratch resistance as previous iPhones based on a new test. Zack Nelson today shared his much-anticipated iPhone 12 Pro durability test on his YouTube channel JerryRigEverything, and based on the Mohs...

2020 iPad Air vs. iPad Pro: Hands-On Comparison

Tuesday October 27, 2020 3:03 pm PDT by
Apple announced the new 2020 fourth-generation iPad Air in September, but the new tablets just started shipping out to customers last Friday. We picked one up and thought we'd do a hands-on comparison with the iPad Pro, which was last updated in March, because both tablets are about as powerful and share many similarities. Subscribe to the MacRumors YouTube channel for more videos. Design and ...

MagSafe Charger Only Charges at Full 15W Speeds With Apple's 20W Power Adapter [Updated]

Monday October 26, 2020 3:38 pm PDT by
Alongside the iPhone 12 and 12 Pro models, Apple introduced a new MagSafe charger that attaches to the magnetic ring in the back of the devices, providing up to 15W of charging power, which is double the speed of the 7.5W Qi-based wireless charging maximum. Apple does not provide a power adapter with the $39 MagSafe charger, requiring users to supply their own USB-C compatible option. Apple...

Apple Files Mystery 'Personal Computer' With Placeholder 'B2002' Name in Bluetooth Product Database

Tuesday October 27, 2020 12:36 pm PDT by
Last week, a listing appeared in the Bluetooth product database for an Apple product with a placeholder name "B2002" and a model number of "TBD." MacRumors was alerted to the listing by health and fitness tech website MyHealthyApple. The product is filed under the "personal computer" category, which Apple has used for previous Mac and iPad listings in the database, so it is hard to pinpoint...

Apple Releases First macOS Big Sur 11.0.1 Beta to Developers [Update: Public Beta Available]

Wednesday October 28, 2020 10:15 am PDT by
Apple today seeded a new macOS Big Sur 11.0.1 beta to developers for testing purposes, with the new beta replacing the existing macOS Big Sur 11 beta 10 update that was released two weeks ago. The macOS Big Sur beta can be downloaded through the Apple Developer Center and once the appropriate profile is installed, subsequent betas will be available through the Software Update mechanism in...

iPhone 12 Models Might Support Reverse Charging of Future Apple Accessories According to FCC Filing

Tuesday October 27, 2020 6:25 pm PDT by
iPhone 12 models could have an inactive wireless charging feature for accessories, according to an FCC filing discovered by VentureBeat's Jeremy Horwitz. In the filing, Apple said that 2020 iPhones support a wireless charging function that will seemingly be enabled for at least one future Apple accessory:In addition to being able to be charged by a desktop WPT charger (puck), 2020 iPhones...