Apple Provides Further Details On IOS 17.5 Bug That Restored Deleted Photos

Tech giant Apple Inc. (AAPL) has revealed further details about an issue where deleted iPhone photos returned to some iOS devices.

Last week, Apple swiftly released an iOS 17.5.1 update after several iPhone users reported a bug in iOS 17.5 that caused previously deleted photos to reappear in the Photos app.

However, the company only provided a brief explanation of “database corruption” in the release notes, which left many Apple users worried about their data privacy.

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Now, in a statement to 9to5Mac, Apple clarified that the issue was not related to iCloud Photos and assured users that the company never had access to the deleted photos.

The company revealed that the bug was due to a corrupted database entry on the affected devices, causing the deleted photos to reappear. These images had always resided locally on the devices and had never been transmitted elsewhere.

Apple explained that in rare instances, iOS 17.5 inadvertently restored files from the corrupted data, causing the deleted images to reappear in the Photos app. According to Apple, the issue affected only a small number of users and a limited number of photos.

Meanwhile, Security researchers at Synactiv further analyzed the issue by reverse-engineering the iOS 17.5.1 update. Their detailed report revealed that iOS 17.5 included a migration routine responsible for scanning and re-importing photos from the file system. This routine was removed in the recent update because it caused old files to be re-indexed and reappear in photo galleries.

“Based on this code, we can say that the photos that reappeared were still present on the file systems and were discovered by the migration routine added in iOS 17.5,” said Synactiv. “From this analysis alone, it is not clear how the photos remained on the file system initially.” The Synactiv article suggests a plausible explanation, which includes the possibility of users saving images in both the Files app and Photos app, but only deleting them from the latter.

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