Security researchers have been able to brick iOS devices remotely using a similar bug to the Jan. 1, 1970 issue that Apple fixed in iOS 9.3. Though the bug was reported to Apple and fixed in iOS 9.3.1, since it's different to the original Jan. 1, 1970 bug, it wasn't fixed in iOS 9.3. Updating to the latest iOS release is now more important than ever.
The result? The iPads that were brought within range of the test (evil) network rebooted, and began to slowly self-destruct.
Full details are available at Krebson Security (via 9to5mac), but the gist of the issue goes like this. Through renaming a network to one an iPhone or iPad has previously connected to and setting up a Network Time Protocol (NTP) that points to the dreaded Jan. 1, 1970 date, the researchers were able to remotely kick iOS devices into self-destruct mode.
The result? The iPads that were brought within range of the test (evil) network rebooted, and began to slowly self-destruct. It’s not clear why they do this, but here’s one possible explanation: Most applications on an iPad are configured to use security certificates that encrypt data transmitted to and from the user’s device. Those encryption certificates stop working correctly if the system time and date on the user’s mobile is set to a year that predates the certificate’s
This can indeed happen remotely; as soon as devices are brought inside of the hotspot and connect up to it (provided it uses the name of a network the device has hooked up to before), the process will begin.
The pair behind the method, Patrick Kelley and Matt Harrigan, have reported the bug to Apple, and it was fixed in iOS 9.3.1. Yet because this is a different bug to the original Jan. 1, 1970 issue fixed in iOS 9.3, all users need to update to the latest software release from Apple in order to be protected. In short, only iOS 9.3.1 will render your iPhone or iPad immune from this method.
You can update your iOS device by navigating to the Settings app, choosing General, and then tapping Software Update.