Like multiple platforms before it, the PlayStation 4 (PS4) has recently been infected with a bug that uses malicious messages to crash the user’s system. Both iOS and Android have run into this exploit in the past. The crash happens when a text message that includes a particular special character or unique code is received. It seems that users don’t necessarily have to even open the message — receiving it can be enough to crash a console.
Players can exploit the bug by creating a dummy account to use for sending messages to opponents. When their opponents receive the messages, they’re kicked out of a match as their consoles crash. In some cases, a complete factory reset is required to restore the console to a usable condition. Sony hasn’t commented on the current situation with the PS4 just yet, but Slash Gear recently reported on a simple step that can be taken to avoid this frustrating situation, along with a couple of things players can try if it does happen to them.
As with many things in life, preventing the problem is easier than fixing it. In this case, preventing a potential crash with this bug is as simple as changing a setting on your console. You can’t get the bug if you don’t receive the message that triggers it, so the trick is to avoid the messages. That can be accomplished by setting your messages to private. This is done by navigating to Settings > Account Management > Privacy Settings > Personal Info/Messaging. From there, Messages can be set to “friends only” or “no one.” If you prefer, you can also make this update by logging into your PlayStation Network account on Sony’s website.
If you’re among the unfortunate to be hit by this bug, there are a couple of things you can do to try and fix your console yourself. The first is to download the free PS Messages mobile app to your phone. Deleting the message from your console won’t fix the problem, but deleting it from the mobile app before you turn on your console will. PS Messages also allows you to block people if you so desire.
If your PS4 is hit by this bug and crashes, delete the problematic message using the PS Messages app mentioned above, reboot the console in safe mode, and choose “Rebuild Database.” It doesn’t affect your games or data, and Sony provides instructions on how to do the rebuild on their official website.